However, according to Chris Patten, Oxford University Rector, in her article on Project Syndicate, the EU has much more pressing problems than messing with Britain.
The reasons for concern in the UK are understandable: there is growing evidence of possible damage to the economy of the Kingdom caused by the abandonment of the single market and the customs union. According to a recent study by the Center for European Reforms, the volume of the British economy has already shrunk by 2.1% from what it could have been if voters had voted against leaving the EU. The damage to the state budget is 440 million pounds (579 million US dollars) per week.
The lack of information on how Brexit will develop is worrying business circles. Chief Executive Officer of Siemens in Britain, Jürgen Maer, recently asked British leaders to clarify how trade with the EU will go, insisting on receiving confirmation that the country will remain in the customs union. Airbus has warned that a complete break with the EU will force it to rethink its long-term partnership with the Kingdom market, which means the risk of job loss for thousands of Britons. BMW confirms its willingness to stay in the country, but warns of a possible increase in its costs.
Such warnings are not enthusiastic about Brexit supporters. British health secretary Jeremy Hunt called them “completely inappropriate”, insisting that they “undermine the authority” of Prime Minister Theresa May. Although May herself copes with undermining her own authority: her statement that the “Brexit dividends” will partially go to increase spending on the National Health Service was widely regarded as a lie.
Oxford University Rector Chris Patten
But what do the EU think of all this? It seems that its leaders had to come to terms with the British’s disposition to secede, because they can do little about it. Of course, EU leaders are not going to undermine their own, successful, law-based economic model in order to do us a favor. Brexit will hurt us much more than it will harm the EU.
Indeed, many other problems are capable of damaging the EU, undermining its very structure, first of all, threats to US President Donald Trump to the health and vitality of the transatlantic alliance, the pillar on which the world order rests after the end of World War II. Trump clearly prefers dictators to democrats and does not have any respect for his allies. His praise for North Korean leader Kim Jong-un at the Singapore summit contrasts sharply with his criticism of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau after the G-7 meeting in Quebec.
Assessment of the impact of export duties: from the EU and from the USA
One of Trump’s most controversial positions is related to trade. Fundamentally misunderstanding the mechanism of its functioning, he determined that it contrasts the United States with the whole world. Instead of strengthening cooperation with Europe and Japan and strengthening the World Trade Organization to counter China’s mercantilism, Trump decided to act alone, attacking even his closest allies. Such behavior threatens to provoke a full-scale trade war that will harm everyone, and not least US consumers and industry.
Another pressing issue in Europe is immigration. Earlier this year, Trump endorsed an “zero tolerance” immigration policy: not only prosecute all adults illegally crossing the border, including those seeking asylum, but also confiscate their children and keep them separate from their parents (although he later issued order repealing the separation of families). Unheard of step for no civilized country! However, some in Europe seem to believe that erecting barbed wire fences along borders (Hungary) or closing ports for ships full of refugees (Italy and Malta) is justified.
Such actions, of course, are endorsed by Trump supporters. For which the right-wing populists of Europe are guaranteed to receive words of support and a kind of friendly pat on the shoulder from former trump chief strategist Stephen Bannon and even some US ambassadors.
Meanwhile, European Democrats with a civilized outlook on governance are being punished. How did Germany deserve Richard Grenell, who expressed his desire to “empower other conservatives,” as the US ambassador? It seems that in response, the German chancellor-centrist Angela Merkel turned her back on Trump.
However, the detoxification of Europe will require much more than just scolding the United States and praying for the early departure of Trump. In fact, the approaches of some EU leaders to issues such as immigration can lead to systemic problems that will remain after Trump returns to golf and bankruptcy courts. Reasonable European leaders can be forgiven for a polite farewell to the United Kingdom in order to focus on the threats to their long-term cohesion and fundamental values.
The EU has always been proud to be a community with the values of protecting minorities and providing asylum to the poor and oppressed. After all, the EU is made up of minorities and fully knows what poverty and deprivation are.
But what common values can moderate democrats like Merkel, Emmanuel Macron (France) and Mark Rutt (Netherlands) have with the right-wing leaders of Hungary, Poland, Italy and even Austria? Sebastian Kurtz, the annoying young chancellor of Austria, is actively seeking to mobilize the opposition against Merkel, although thanks to her attitude towards refugees, Austria has not drowned in the stream of asylum seekers.
Common sense and experience should tell us that selfish scattering of slogans, violation of the rule of law and refusal of international obligations are not ingredients of the recipe for good politics. Macron is right that Hungary Viktor Orban and Poland Yaroslav Kaczynski should no longer be allowed to get into the pockets of their more affluent European partners, while they neglect EU values.
The EU must confront its problems with a cohesive, joint policy combining efficiency with basic human decency. For example, with regard to migration, the EU should act as a whole, strengthening its borders – on the one hand, and assisting in the development and assistance in establishing security for the countries from which people flee – on the other. Thanks to more stable and open markets, these countries will be able to export their products, not citizens.
As for Britain, we have already laid straws – it remains only to relive our nightmares on it.