BREXIT: Lessons for ASEAN

The European Union (EU) has become a reference for forms of regionalism in various other hemispheres. The opinion that the EU is the most successful form of regionalism and an example for other regionalism is not entirely wrong. The EU is an example for other regionalism, of course, because there is no form of integration in other parts of the world that almost matches the level of EU integration. In Theodore H. Cohn’s writings, there are five levels in the development of regional integration. Starting at the level of Free Trade Area, Customs Union, Common Market, Economic Union, and finally the Political Union (Cohn, 2012: 209-210).

In modern integration, the European Union is on the fourth level, namely the Economic Union. Because the European Union forms a single currency for its members. The EU’s success in creating the Euro currency greatly influenced the regionalism of other regions, seeing the fact that the Euro was the main competitor of the US Dollar in the global market. In the study of regionalism, the phenomenon of regionalism cooperation shown by the European Union is called a spill over phenomenon. Cooperation will be increasingly widespread, such as the EU, which began with cooperation in the trade of iron and coal, to ‘spill’ into cooperation in economic zones that have their own currency values. In its development, the European Union set rules regarding workers among its member countries, so that the phenomenon of immigration occurs in European Union countries that have been economically strong like England. But on June 23, 2016, the UK left the European Union based on a referendum on British people. The exit of the United Kingdom indicates that division can occur, even in the most successful regional cooperation such as the European Union. This phenomenon certainly attracted the attention of various groups. One of them is how the phenomenon of Britain’s exit from the European Union, termed Brexit, influences other regional cooperation. This question is a big question mark in the form of regional cooperation in the future. The European Union provides the fact that the depth of integration is not necessarily a guarantee that member states of regionalism cooperation will continue to maintain their membership. Interestingly, Britain’s desire to leave the European Union came from the pressure of its own people.

ASEAN is a regional cooperation that is beginning to approach the level of integration that is almost the same as the European Union. Even though it hasn’t made one same currency, through AEC, the movement of goods, and workers in ASEAN countries can move freely in the ASEAN region. Brexit, not only has an impact on the European Union, but can provide lessons for other regional cooperation. Disunity in regional cooperation is certainly undesirable. Especially if the regional cooperation has formed a dependency relationship among its member countries. AEC is the first step for ASEAN in deepening its integration, ASEAN can get lessons from the Brexit phenomenon regarding how to maintain the integration that has been built through regional cooperation.

This paper seeks to describe the phenomenon of the UK’s exit from the European Union which can be a ‘warning’ and lesson for ASEAN, even though ASEAN has a different model in its application with the European Union. Some of the most obvious things are ASEAN using a consensus system and the absence of a non-intervention principle. But it cannot be denied that the European Union is the inspiration for the success of regional cooperation for ASEAN. The success of the European Union was previously initiated by the European Community (EC).

Author : Bima Jon Nanda; Inda Mustika Permata