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16-06-27 Cdp on Brexit-14

 

While I share some comments of Jochen Bittner expressed in his article “Is Merkel to Blame for Brexit?” of September 26, I deeply disagree with others.

It is true, we should not look at the UK as just one more third country. Its exit will make the EU smaller internationally. But even more so, it will make the UK smaller. Of course, the UK is a permanent member of the UN Security Council. Of course, it has significant military and diplomatic potential. Nobody would question either that it has one of the best intelligence services. It also goes without saying that it has been an important voice at the EU table, which I should say has been as much to the benefit as to the detriment of the Union.

However, when one says that the UK is leaving because of the EU free movement of people, one should also look into the contribution of this movement to the growth in the UK. In particular after the 2004 enlargement.

Additionally, the decision to open the country to the citizens from the 2004 enlargement countries was made by the UK government. This decision was not imposed on the UK. It was based on a rational calculation of the potential costs and benefits associated with this choice. In addition, let us underline that, by definition, the migration policy followed by Ms Merkel in 2015 had nothing to do with the free movement of people in the EU.

Furthermore, one should not forget that, in February 2016, the UK was offered the right to restrict the inflow of EU citizens to the UK. This offer has not been even presented to the wider public in the UK before the referendum.

Accusing EU of taking a hard approach towards Brexit ignores what the single market is. This is a paradox since the UK has always been a strong ally and protector of the single market as well as a major contributor to its development.

The EU side does not dream of a no-deal scenario. The slogan that no deal is better than a bad deal – whatever this means- has been made popular by British politicians.

Nobody wants to humiliate or alienate the UK. How could this be our preferred option? What would we do that for, when we know the cost of Brexit for everybody?

Why should we dismantle the construction that we have been building for more than sixty years, its integrity and its most precious elements, just because one Member State decides to leave? Why should we give up on the single market if it is the major growth machinery of the EU, as the UK side also acknowledges? A strong EU, with or without the Brits, will always be in the interest of the UK.