Negotiations have reached breaking point as Prime Minister Boris Johnson and EU negotiator Michel Barnier fail to make progress. Mr Barnier has agreed this week to put everything on the table and “intensify” talks as he looks to secure a deal with the UK. Brussels and London have clashed over red lines on state aid, regulation and fisheries as the end of the transition period approaches. A researcher at the Wilfried Martens Centre, the official think tank of the European People’s Party, claimed in 2019 that Brussels needed to ensure the UK suffered a “knockout blow” in order to protect the bloc.
Eoin Drea said in an article for the Irish Times that the EU is threatened by the potential of the UK being a success after leaving.
He said: “Put simply, Europe continues to underestimate British abilities to adapt, and possibly even thrive, in a post-EU environment.
“Brexit may well be an obscene act of economic self-harm, but that does not preclude the probability that Britain will remain a powerful economic and political actor on the world stage.
“In doing so, Britain will be a most serious competitor for Europe irrespective of what kind of Brexit actually occurs.”
Mr Drea argued that the US and UK have succeeded in shaping the framework of modern, capitalist, democratic societies, giving them an advantage over EU nations.
He continued: “And therein lies the real worry for the EU. Brexit Britain’s quest for a global niche is achievable, probably likely, if adopted in a collaborative framework with the US, China and India.
“That does not mean that Brexit – of whatever shade – will not have huge negative impacts on Britain – that much is obvious.
“But what Europe has failed to understand is that Brexit Britain doesn’t want to reorient British business to compete with the EU as an offshore raider.
“Rather, it seeks to double down on globalisation and reinforce Britain’s role as a location for global business. The protection of British business died with Thatcher, whereas in Europe it lingers like the odour of a bygone era.”
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The EU may have heeded warnings such as this given Jean-Pierre Pont, a member of parliament for Mr Macron’s party, warned the UK cannot be better off post-Brexit.
He said amid a fisheries row: “The (European) Union must continue to guarantee that fishing won’t be sacrificed to save other sectors.
“The government must stay as firm as possible. Britain can’t be better off outside than inside.”