The United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union could be the jolt needed to spur long-discussed reforms in the coalition formed in the wake of World War II, says David Bieri, an associate professor of urban affairs at Virginia Tech and a Swiss native who has worked extensively in the British and Swiss financial industries.
“It could be an opportunity – but Europe will have to work hard not to descend in polarization,” he said. “Some will frame this as a victory for ‘nationalism’ but it’s also a warning shot across Europe’s bow. I would call for restraint in saying that this vote is ‘anti-Europe.’ I think it could be viewed as ‘pro-Europe’ but ‘anti status quo.’”
Bieri said Americans should care about the vote not only for historical reasons but also for the economic impact. For instance, the European Union as a trading bloc will lose close to a third of its export capacity, he said.
Bieri’s main research and teaching interests are at the intersection of public finance, monetary theory and economic geography. He holds a joint appointment in the Global Forum on Urban and Regional Resilience and in the School of Public and International Affairs. He has held various senior positions at the Bank for International Settlements in Basel, Switzerland. Prior to his work in central banking, he worked as a high-yield analyst at Bankers Trust in London.