RUSI's Associate Director, Dr. Jonathan Eyal, argues that in 2017 Europe may see a rise in populist politicians aiming to capitalise on the anti-establishment wave seen in Britain and the US with Brexit and the election of Donald Trump.
The likelihood of a second referendum designed to reverse the first referendum’s decision (as in the Republic of Ireland in 2009) remains very low in the UK, so the Brexit verdict seems irreversible. It also appears certain that the new prime minister, Theresa May, will eventually trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, likely in September or October.
Soon after the Paris attacks, the prospect of similar massacres happening in the UK was raised. While the danger is serious, crucial contexts specific to the Continent mean the UK faces a different kind of threat.
The Paris terrorist attacks will impact on France’s electoral politics and on the country’s counter-terrorism legislation. But the impact need not be as great as currently expected. The best weapon with which French politicians can arm themselves is sang-froid.
The terrorist attacks in France encourage a new European trend: the argument that, supposedly, Islam is incompatible with European cultures, and that Muslims cannot be integrated into European societies. Both these views must be fought by mainstream European leaders.
The Charlie Hebdo attack raises a number of pressing concerns; however, its implications for the wider terrorist threat cannot be fully understood until key questions about the perpetrators are answered.
As French troops continue to engage Islamist rebels in Mali, questions are being raised over how long they will stay, and the real commitment of the president to ending France's long history of interventionism on the continent.