Obama cautioned against “hysteria” over the United Kingdom’s vote to leave the European Union last week, saying all of Europe needs to take a breath and reassess how to preserve national identity while taking advantage of political and economic integration.
“I think that the best way to think about this is, a pause button has been pressed on the project of full European integration,” Obama told National Public Radio in an interview broadcast Tuesday. “I don’t anticipate that there’s going to be major cataclysmic changes as a result of this.”
Obama’s remarks on the so-called Brexit were his extensive since Britons voted last Thursday to leave the union of 28 countries that it joined in 1973. The resulting financial uncertainty shaved more than $1 trillion out of stock markets and sent the British pound plummeting against the dollar.
But Obama noted that the the UK long ago opted out of the Euro, the common currency that forms the basis of the monetary union, and will remain a member of NATO. In that way, he said, the UK will become more like Norway — still very involved in Europe and the world, but not through the EU.
“I would not overstate it. There’s been a little bit of hysteria post-Brexit vote, as if somehow NATO’s gone, and the trans-Atlantic alliance is dissolving, and every country is rushing off to its own corner. And that’s not what’s happening,” Obama said. “What’s happening is you had a European project that was probably moving faster and without as much consensus as it should have,” he said.
Obama said the European Union often seems “bureaucratic and deadlocked,” but that Europeans still share common core values.
“Europe can’t afford to turn inward,” he said, noting crises to the south in the north Africa and the Middle East and to the east in Ukraine.
Obama said the vote “speaks to the ongoing changes and challenges that are raised by globalization.”
But he rebuffed the notion that the result validates the campaign of presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, whose campaign has had tones of economic and social isolationism.
“First of all, I think it’s important to remember that Mr. Trump embodies global elites and has taken full advantage of it his entire life, so he’s hardly a spokesperson — a legitimate spokesperson — for a populist surge of working-class people on either side of the Atlantic,” Obama said.

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