As the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the EU has now become a legal reality, the EU and UK must make sure that their future relationships are based on fair cooperation and mutual interest. The EU should look at the unity it showed during the withdrawal negotiations as a proof of its strength. “And we should not exclude the thought that one day, time will come for Brentrance” commented Ludger Ramme, CEC President. Managers have a particular interest that exchanges on management and leadership topics continue, also to strengthen the entrepreneurial spirit.
After more than 3 years, three different Prime Ministers and two general elections, the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union will eventually enter into force this Friday, 31 January. Despite being a sorry moment, the decision to quit the EU has been a fully democratic one, confirmed by several, successive political steps and entirely enshrined in a Treaty-based procedural context. The – legitimate – observations about how public opinion has elaborated its position on this topic cannot overshadow the reality of things, nor can it weaken the legitimacy of the vote.
Throughout the whole negotiation process, the European Union has shown a remarkable level of solidarity and unity. In a moment of difficulty like this one, the EU Member States have demonstrated their capacity to hold together, decide on a common line and keep it until the end. This is probably a lesson for the EU, and a proof of its capacity to find unity on sensitive issues that should be serve as a guide for similar episodes of taking “difficult decisions” for all.
CEC President Ludger Ramme commented: “The future EU-UK relations will have to focus on what has been and still is good between the Island and the “Continent”. After all UK is our neighbor, even a member of our family. On these grounds we have to build our future, without ever excluding the thought that one day, time will come for Brentrance”.
The EU and the national governments will have to demonstrate the same capacity in the upcoming phase, during which the new terms of the relationships between the EU and the UK will be drawn. The basis for this negotiation is set in the Political Declaration, approved together with the Withdrawal Agreement. Besides the issue of how to regulate the future trade relations and the existing cooperation in many global “fields” (from security to defense, from data protection to environmental protection), the main worry on this side of the Channel is that in the long run, and after the end of the transition period, the United Kingdom might develop an “aggressive” international trade stance. There is a clear reference in the Political Declaration to the need to ensure a “level playing field” in the future and “uphold the common high standards applicable” in both entities, expressly meant to prevent this development. But political declarations are so very dependent on the goodwill of the parties involved in them, and the inevitable tactics that any negotiation implies might stretch up to the point where “unfair” competition becomes the register of the future EU-UK relation.
Irrespective of the formal context in which the new relations will develop, it is unthinkable that the withdrawal from the European Union can become the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from Europe. To face the global challenges ahead of us, the sirens of sovereignism and isolationism might prove ineffective. And if Europe wants to defend the possibility to continue having a role to play in the global scenario, it has to act in a united way. We are confident that the political leaders, both in Europe and in the UK, will agree on shared mechanisms, principles and values to make the best of this new EU-UK setting, their companies and citizens. From our side, CEC – and its member organizations at national level – are ready to provide the necessary support to the respective governments to help the transition towards the new state of EU-UK relations.