How hard will the Brexit negotiations be?
The UK plans to give the EU formal notification of its intention to leave the Union on March 29, thus launching the Brexit negotiations. British commentators hope the move will revive Britain's national identity. Others warn the EU not to be led by emotions in the talks.
Brussels wants to punish UK
Brussels is clearly tempted to make London pay for its presumption, România Liberă observes:
“Pay both literally and metaphorically, that is. We keep hearing reports that London will have to pay 40 to 50 billion euros to cover the deficit that Brexit will leave in the EU budget. … On the other hand Brussels wants to delay the signing of the Brexit agreement with the UK for as long as possible in order to make it clear that leaving the EU is not merely a formality. … But what could happen is that it begins the negotiations with Britain with a tough stance and then its positions gradually softens to facilitate a sensible compromise in the end. … On the other hand Brussels could just as well opt to use the Brexit to teach a lesson to rebellious EU member states that refuse to accept their share of the burden resulting from the massive wave of immigration.”
No brutal Brexit, please!
The EU must not allow disappointment over the British people's desire to leave the EU cloud its judgement, De Telegraaf warns:
“In Brussels the frustration over the Brexit is huge. Is would be very unwise to allow this disappointment to define the negotiations. The British have made their decision. Moreover, it's too easy to dismiss this decision as yet another tick on the part of the eccentric island dwellers. … The rapid expansion of the EU triggered a major wave of migration toward the UK that derailed large segments of its labour market. … Now all the involved parties must prevent a hard break. The economic ties between the European continent and the British are strong. Those who severe them too brutally will only do themselves harm.”
EU must not let itself be divided
The top priority for the EU must be to guarantee cohesion, former diplomat Antonio Armellini urges in Corriere della Sera:
“True to its negotiating style, London will claim the right to access the single market and protect its financial system without allowing the free movement of persons or heeding EU regulations in return. ... The strategy of dividing the community by relying on a difference of opinion among member states (a British classic) may still provide some surprises. ... The danger that the Brexit could spark the collapse of the entire EU would then increase as the negotiations progressed. However instead of drifting apart, the 27 could cite exactly the same grounds to bolster cohesion, if only for tactical reasons.”
Strengthen British identity
The Brexit offers British politicians the possibility to revive the concept of the democratically legitimated nation state, the Daily Telegraph writes:
“Europe has almost forgotten - sometimes with good historical reasons - what pride in nationality might mean, and how democratically responsive governments in touch with their populations might have something valuable to offer the world. Ironically, the idea of the self-governing state directly answerable to its own people was lost in the terrible shame of the twentieth century’s nationalist crimes. But the EU now finds itself harbouring a return to just the kind of populist nativism which it was designed to prevent. Will this generation of British politicians have the vision and the strength of character to re-invent nationhood? Who knows?”