As the Brexit vote redraws a border previously erased by the hand of unity through diversity, a range of further divisions becomes increasingly clear.
As many of you will know, the majority of younger voters opted to stay in the European Union, while, overall, older generations voted to leave. This generational divide is regrettable in the best of times, but all the more when the older generation – who are also in charge in Westminster – make such an important decision affecting the future of their children and grandchildren.
The rest of Europe must do everything possible to avoid a similar discrepancy in ideals between generations, even if it means facing some hard truths about the EU as we know it; or skeptics in the Netherlands and France may pull the rug out from under their own feet, too.
A second divide is one that has been present for a long time: The divide between Scotland (and to a lesser extent Northern Ireland) and the rest of the UK.
One of the main reasons why many on-the-fence-voters decided to vote to stay in the UK in the 2014 Scottish independence referendum was because of Westminster threats of uncertainty with regard to Scotland’s EU membership. The polls now show that while the UK would drag Scotland out of the EU, Scots voted overwhelmingly in favor of staying in.
This will, without any doubt, bring about a new referendum on independence in which I do not doubt Scotland will choose to go at it alone. Together with the rest of the EU, at least if the EU manages to extend a welcoming hand to the people of Scotland – something it has not been able to do in its current form.
In short, from these divisions exacerbated by the Brexit referendum, one thing becomes clear as day: We need to take a hard look at ourselves and get in touch with every generation and nation of the EU in order to reform this beautiful monster into the best Union it can be.
By Erik Vanderheyden
Erik Vanderheyden is a doctoral candidate at the University of Leipzig. He’s originally from Leuven, Belgium.