“The rational decision is for everyone to get along and move on”

Chronic. When are we finally going to find out whether a Brexit deal is possible or not? Whatever the decision, it will have important long-term implications for Europe, not only for trade and common regulation, but also for the place the European Union (EU) will hold in the world.

While a no-deal Brexit is likely to wreak havoc on supply chains in the months ahead, the political, social and strategic costs ahead are much greater. To be able to defend its interests vis-à-vis China and the United States, the EU must maintain a solid relationship with the United Kingdom.

A no-deal Brexit would deprive Europe of the foundations of its future relationship with the UK. The aim must be to build a strong, long-term partnership that respects UK sovereignty and gives each side sufficient leeway to defend its interests.

Read also Brexit: London and Brussels announce continuing discussions before the break scheduled for December 31

It is just as important for the EU as it is for the UK to build a strong relationship, which leads to mutual prosperity. Great Britain has a lot to offer Europe, precisely in areas where it is poor. For example, as the continent’s only global financial center, the City could play a decisive role in maintaining Europe’s status as an attractive stock exchange for international investment.

Of course, if no deal is finally reached, this risks seriously threatening the United Kingdom, whose national integrity largely depends on the Good Friday Agreement of 1998 and the lack of a physical border between the United Kingdom. Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. But, as Poland’s and Hungary’s latest internal challenges show, the EU cannot take its own integrity for granted either. No one is naive enough to believe that taking a hard line on the UK will discourage these governments from playing spoilers.

Long-term perspective

So the rational decision is for everyone to come to an agreement and move on. The EU has a certain advantage in these negotiations. She knows that Brexit is not going to change much of its internal workings, as the UK faces the monumental task of rebuilding its institutions. But given the EU’s interest in a prosperous post-Brexit UK, it should take the first step towards breaking the current deadlock, adopting a more conciliatory posture on maintaining the equivalent of existing state aid and dispute settlement regimes. In addition, the EU must end its intransigence on fishing rights, which are economically unimportant but politically powerful within the UK, as the UK tries to show some degree of sovereignty.

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