Article 50 from the European Union’s perspective

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Brexit means Brexit. But what does that mean for the EU? Trade deals, immigration and tariffs will all be discussed in the coming months, but what do the member states want out of Britain? Also why should they be wary of getting a good deal, surely it’s in everyone’s best interest, is it not?

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Finding the right trade deal will define the future of the European Union.

Brexit, Brexit, Brexit. Jean-Claude Junker is probably sick of hearing th
at word. Nevertheless, when Theresa May arrives in Brussels for negotiations, she
will be pressing for a good trade deal and a rational immigration policy. For the EU, there are two options; one is to punish Britain, making them second in the queue economically with large tariffs on
imports, or do they treat them kindly, facilitating trade, commerce
and tourism?



Punishing Britain may seem like the best thing to do, and may even be likely given that there will be 26 angry nations deciding Britain’s fate. But that would be a disaster for them, even if retribution for Britain undermining the effort towards a federal Europe. The Polish Prime Minister spoke of punishing Britain, but that would only hurt the EU. For a start, Europe is one slowest growing economic areas on the planet. Newly industrialising countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China) are soon to overtake (if not already) many of Europe’s countries, so the EU can ill-afford to cut off its connection from one of Europe’s richest powers, as there is a lot of choice elsewhere for it to trade with. Secondly, why the need for punishment? The EU is (at least superficially) simply a trade and movement agreement, and Britain choosing to leave the Union should not be a cause for punishment. Furthermore, if Britain was forced to look further afield for trading partners, then Donald Trump would welcome them with open arms. This is potentially a large danger for Europe’s countries, as a united Britain and America could lead to a double-headed rejection of NATO, as the two powers could become together disillusioned with the state of affairs on the continent. Then who knows what could happen. Could Turkey stake its claim over some Greek Islands, could Russia start flexing its muscles in Eastern Europe once more. We know it has recently granted 250,000 Estonians Russian passports, and without the threat of NATO, what’s to stop them expanding? The EU does not want to isolate itself from the growing economic world, and risk becoming a marginalised force.

A strict trade deal that sends Britain into American arms would threaten European security, as the USA and Britain could potentially fall out with NATO. The two countries fund most of NATO’s security, so this is a serious problem. It is likely that Donald Trump presenting Angela Merkel with a bill of $300bn for Germany’s share of defense may just be a reminder that the EU will have to keep NATO in mind when negotiating trade deals.

Should the EU just give Britain a fair deal then? Good trade relations, a sensible immigration policy that returns British sovereignty back to Westminster would benefit all it would appear. Yet, the reasons against this reveal why the Polish Prime Minister spoke of punishing Britain, because it undermines the ideological basis of a federal Europe. If Britain was treated leniently, then other countries may follow, namely net-contributors to the system who have seen their countries subject to mass immigration, who resent the social consequences of the EU, but put up with it for the financial benefit. But, if financial security could be achieved without a European Supra-State, then other nations who oppose the EU’s immigration burden may follow suit. Amongst them would be Belgium, who witnesses 35 deaths in March 2016 from Islamic terrorism, and Sweden who have seen a dramatic increase in violent crime. Recently, Peter Springare, a policeman from Sweden, spoke out against this immigration. He stated that in the last month he had had to deal with almost exclusively Islamic violence, including rape, assault and murder. If these countries who detest European immigration left, all that would be left would be net-spenders, and the system would collapse. However, if mutually beneficial trade and immigration deals can be reached without the EU presiding over it, then why can’t countries come and go as they please? The Euro has destroyed southern European economies, and the EU has brought levels of immigration that it cannot support, resulting in inconceivable levels of terrorism in recent years. An ideologically Supra-State is desirable for those who benefit from contributions from richer nations, and Germany who benefits from a superficially lowered currency, as Trump pointed out.

Therefore, the EU is in danger, and a deal that is too kind to Britain may dilute its effort to have a centralised Europe. However, the converse may force Britain into Donald Trump’s arms, reducing trade with Europe, and threatening NATO, and therefore European security. Also it would isolate Europe at a time when it is already in decline. It will be a tough challenge, and ultimately the EU must realise the flaws in its system if it is to survive. However, the fact that economically it suits Germany, and its currency cripples Spain, Italy (who have not seen economic growth since it joined the Euro)  and Greece, and the fact it wants to punish members who leave shows that the EU is one the precipice of destruction . It relies too heavily on contributors, but is in danger of losing them. However, the alternative to treating Britain leniently and encouraging a mass exodus is a real threat to NATO, and menaces European trade when it can ill afford to do so. The EU is the new ‘Sick man of Europe’.

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The EU is in danger, and simply getting the right deal with Britain may not be enough to ensure its survival, both economically and ideologically.

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