Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
I think you are onto something here. The impression I get is that most English people see the EU as some sort of optional extra sitting on top of historic nation states which they would like to business with on a one to one case by case basis on terms they can dictate and without the EU "interfering" in any way - almost like returning to a time before the EU existed.

They imagine that once the UK leaves the EU, that firstly, the EU might crumble without their financial contributions and leadership, and that would be great. Failing that, they imagine they can almost ignore the EU and carry on traveling to and trading with "Europe" as if the EU didn't exist.

The EU is seen as some sort of evil empire restricting free trade and freedom of action and an undemocratic interference in the free will of nations. They imagine that other countries will soon follow the UK's lead once they see the success that Brexit will become.

They even imagine that Ireland may want to rejoin the United Kingdom, and that will solve the backstop problem once and for all.

Many can't understand what all the fuss is about. Why doesn't the UK just leave? (They need us more than we need them, and that will force them to give us what we want in due course). There is a vague sense of entitlement encapsulated in the assumption that they can have their cake and eat it (Cakeism in the Soul) and that Jonny foreigner can go whistle if they don't like it.

They imagine that even if the UK leaves without a deal, sectoral and national deals will quickly be done because airplanes need to fly and Germans need to sell cars.

From an EU perspective, the view couldn't be more different. The EU is a complex structure of Treaties, laws and rules painstakingly put together, very difficult to change, and the only way you can function in a very complex world with competing interests and difficult trade-offs to be made.

If the UK leaves without a deal, it becomes just another country (like, for example, Russia) with which the EU doesn't have a trade deal or much in the way of bilateral deals and so some generic WTO trade rules may apply but otherwise it may as well be N. Korea. Special privileges cannot be given to the UK without also having to give them to all other WTO members under Most Favoured Nation rules.

For example, access to the Single Market cannot be given for free without Norway and others countries  also being given that access for free.

A Free Trade Agreement with the UK may be negotiated in a few years time, but only if it doesn't upset any important interest groups in the EU (e.g. farmers) because of the requirement for unanimity. In practice it may never be agreed if the parting is very rancorous and there is a lack of mutual trust.

Problems like N. Ireland, Gibraltar, Cyprus bases, and the treatment of immigrants will become a source of ongoing tensions and antagonism.

Even a very limited deal which could be agreed without difficulty now may become impossible to agree later because of the requirement for unanimity and because both sides will have drifted very far apart politically, emotionally, and structurally.

A sort of Cold Peace could develop where there are no actual hostilities or trade war, but very little meeting of minds or cooperation either. People will hunker down in their respective bunkers nursing all manner of bitterness, resentments and grievances.

And it will all be the EU's fault.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Oct 18th, 2018 at 11:24:07 PM EST
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