Background to Brexit: One-Size-Fits-All Monetary Policy and the Eurozone Crisis

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After months of vitriolic campaigns, on June 23 voters began to emerge from polling stations throughout the United Kingdom having cast their ballots in a nationwide referendum on European Union (EU) membership. The possibility of a British exit, or “Brexit,” has shined a spotlight on the institutional, political, and economic woes of the EU and the eurozone. But for political economist Jeffry Frieden, Stanfield Professor of International Peace at Harvard University, this moment in British political life is merely the latest expression of domestic political unrest in a host of European countries.

Elections loom throughout Europe: in Spain three days after the UK referendum, in France and Germany next year. In a final irony, Britain is due to take the rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union in July 2017.

What does the future look like for a European Union tethered to a single market and a single currency? From the economic woes of the eurozone, to the political debates brought about by the refugee crisis, tension among EU member states has brought into question the very nature and future of European integration generally, and of monetary integration specifically.

Jeffry Frieden specializes in the politics of international monetary and financial relations. The Weatherhead Center for International Affairs sat down with its former interim faculty director to discuss the referendum and the eurozone crisis.