Should the British take part in the EU elections?

The EU heads of state and government are expected to grant a further delay for Brexit today. According to a draft decision Britain would then have to take part in the EU elections and act in a "constructive" and "responsible" manner until it leaves the Union for good. Not all commentators believe it's a good idea for the UK to participate.

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Der Standard (AT) /

A loss of face for the EU

Britain's participating in the EU elections would destroy the EU's credibility, Der Standard warns:

“For many the EU is like an anchor in uncertain times. Despite the platitudes about curved cucumbers or the usual 'us against them' rhetoric, European topics have once again become part and parcel of daily politics. But if the British took part, this newly won confidence would be destroyed in one fell swoop. The EU would not emerge from the farce of European elections with the Brits in tow without losing face. By contrast the forces that have no interest in the Union's development could benefit from this.”

El País (ES) /

A Trojan horse in parliament

Those who want to leave shouldn't still have their foot in the door, El País concurs:

“If the UK is allowed to participate in the European elections in May and bear responsibility in the institutions it will be able to use this platform to boycott the EU's most pressing tasks. The first of these is its foreign policy, which requires unanimity and on which London has already sided with Donald Trump regarding Venezuela. Other areas are no less important: the negotiations on the EU's 7-year budget, in which London has always fought selfish battles, or the filling of new posts in the EU. ... Europe already has enough problems to deal with without letting in a great big Trojan horse now.”

The Irish Times (IE) /

Fight together for Europe

Britain's participation in the European elections would offer the chance to strengthen the pro-European core in the European parliament, counters historian Timothy Garton-Ash in The Irish Times:

“We British Europeans should take that as our next great challenge. In another tweet, Rees-Mogg approvingly quoted a speech in the Bundestag by Alice Weidel, of the far-right, populist Alternative für Deutschland. And there's the point: our British struggle with the Rees-Moggs, Johnsons and Nigel Farages is not separate from the Germans' struggle with the AfD, the Italians' with the far-right deputy prime minister, Matteo Salvini, the Poles' with their nationalist PiS party, and Macron's with the hardliner Marine le Pen. It is one and the same struggle. It is the battle for Europe.”

The Independent (GB) /

Allies against more integration

The Independent explains why Paris and Berlin are divided over postponing the Brexit:

“While neither side has ever (formally) wanted the British to leave the club, the distinct impression is that the French are less upset about the departure than the Germans are. For Mr Macron, Britain's historic resistance to European federalism - it dates back many decades - is a substantial obstacle to his ambition to see 'More Europe'. ... For the Germans by contrast, and in league with the Dutch and the Scandinavians, the British were invaluable allies in the resistance to headlong federalism, and the kinds of schemes that gave the European project a bad name among the voters.”

Contributors (RO) /

EU will follow the principle of hope

Commenting in Contributors political scientist Valentin Naumescu believes another postponement of Brexit will be granted:

“Although it isn't clear whether this new postponement will do the EU or Britain any good, the principle according to which the British parliament deserves another chance as long as there is hope of the deal being approved will likely prevail. Even though the Brexit story is getting uglier and uglier and everyone seems to be disappointed - on both sides of the English Channel - with this deplorable mistake on the part of the politicians and the end of Britain's EU membership (1973-2019).”