With UK beginning a new chapter in its relationship with the European Union as well as the world, following the June 23rd historic vote, the potential impact of Brexit will be felt in the development community too. The vote comes at a time when governments around the world have just agreed to the ambitious 2030 agenda for sustainable development and also finished addressing their concerns on Climate Change at the Conference in Paris.
It is unfortunate that during the referendum debates from both the quarters there were talks of economic crisis, growth, immigration, sovereignty, jobs etc but barely any mention of Britain’s internationalist role. How would UK play a global leadership role in international development outside of the EU? The question was left unanswered.
Today with an urgent need to support developing nations fight poverty, combat climate change and educate children, international aid community needs the backing of member countries like the UK.
The result of the referendum might impact UK’s global role in achieving the sustainable development goals. The European Commission with its 28 member states stands firmly as the world biggest donor group which constitutes half of the international development aid. Up till now, UK had a significant say in deciding the fate of this aid where it could align the money with its international agenda too. It had also extended the geographic reach of U.K aid. But now U.K.’s ability to influence, participate and to benefit from EU policy and programs would also undoubtedly suffer. The dynamics would change now.
Brexit’s impact on Asia and Africa
The recent divorce with EU would likely have repercussions on not just the size of EU’s aid budget but also on what it prioritizes in the coming years in its development agenda. UK aid is already diminishing in Asian countries like India and moving to the continent of Africa. Perhaps one of the biggest impacts of Brexit would be visible in Africa where recently the leaders had agreed to double the aid and let go of the outstanding debts of the poorest countries. But now in the wake of this development, will UK stand up to its commitment. Will they keep showing their support and concern for the peacekeeping mission in Africa?
Not much attention was given to the warnings of Brexit on International development, now it remains to be seen how will the new leaders in coming months embody British values and stay put, on the commitment to the developing nations to help them implement SDGs.