Brussels criticises British Brexit plans

London's Brexit plans have met with criticism from the EU. Barely any progress had been made on the key topics of the single market and the free movement of persons, EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier said in the first official response to May's white paper on the Brexit. But for all its doubts the EU cannot just London to its fate, commentators stress.

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De Volkskrant (NL) /

EU needs British more than ever

The US's new stance vis-à-vis Europe must have consequences for the EU's Brexit policy, cultural historian Rene Cuperus demands in his column in De Volkskrant:

“Britain was always an important lynchpin in the transatlantic alliance. ... But the situation has completely changed . ... Brexit threatens to isolate the British geopolitically. This is bad for Britain, but also for us Europeans. In an ever more hostile world in which Europe must increasingly rely on its own resources militarily and economically, we can't get along without the British. In the world of leaders like Xi, Trump and Putin, Brexit is not a hobby for EU treaty jurists, but a matter of political survival. A matter for the bosses! It's high time the European leaders reached a geostrategic agreement with the United Kingdom.”

Deutschlandfunk (DE) /

Without May things won't work at all

Deutschlandfunk explains why the EU's reaction has been relatively mild:

“The restraint of the European ministers of the EU 27 is a result of the dilemma in which the EU finds itself: no one has any interest in weakening Theresa May. Her fall would only make a disorderly Brexit in eight months' time even more likely. And no one can want a Brexit chaos. Not anyone here on the continent and not on the island either. The EU still hasn't given up the hope of finding a political partner who is capable of action in London in the coming, crucial weeks. But as things stand right now that would be nothing short of a miracle.”

Evenimentul Zilei (RO) /

Britain not so great after all

London has little chance of making up for the Brexit by forging trade ties elsewhere, Evenimentul Zilei comments:

“Prime Minister Theresa May has tried to negotiate various free trade agreements that could compensate for the UK leaving the EU - with China, India and most recently with the US, but all to no avail. Britain must own up to the fact that it represents only one tenth of the EU market, that it can no longer rely on its former global empire in negotiations, and that what remains of this empire can no longer guarantee its independence or economic compensation. Not even the shadow of its former empire can create an alternative to EU membership and the single market.”