Member of the European Parliament and Brexit Party Leader Nigel Farage waves a British flag at the plenary session of the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium, on Jan. 29, 2020. The European Parliament voted overwhelmingly on Wednesday to approve the Withdrawal Agreement between the European Union (EU) and the United Kingdom. (Xinhua/Zheng Huansong)
The UK’s departure from the European Union (EU) was approved overwhelmingly by the EU Parliament on Wednesday. The vote was 621 to 49 in favor of the Brexit deal. Britain’s official departure will be at 11 pm London time on Friday.
After Brexit, it remains to be seen how Europe will handle its relationship with the UK. If the UK and the EU can maintain a friendly relationship in the future, it will benefit the entirety of Europe and bring solidarity.
The EU has many internal problems, such as division, and it also faces a string of external challenges. A major test for the EU will be the situation in the Middle East. Issues such as refugees may bring new challenges, and these issues are also some of the major reasons for division within the EU.
The EU will suffer from losses in the short term after Brexit. The UK is a large economy which is influential worldwide. Brexit will negatively impact the EU in terms of economy, politics and security. However, the EU is trying to minimize these effects as much as possible.
If the UK is still part of the EU, there may be issues that are difficult to resolve. Now, the process of resolution may accelerate. The EU is also fixing the economic, political and security losses caused by Brexit by further taking advantage of its previous policies. If the EU can handle it properly, it will compensate for those losses to a certain extent, and may even enhance its own capabilities and influence.
China has dealt with its relations with the UK within the EU framework in the past. But such a situation will change after Brexit. The trends of the UK-EU relationship in the future will be an important prerequisite for China’s handling of relations with both sides.
If the UK and the EU do not drift too far away from each other, then the situation may not change too much for China. However, if there are major changes in UK-EU relations, then China will also need to adjust its own thinking.
China needs to take the UK into consideration when dealing with the EU and also consider the EU when dealing with the UK. For example, people have always been worried that protectionism in the EU will rise after Brexit, because the UK had previously been playing a major role in opposing protectionism in the EU. Due to Brexit, protectionism in the EU has recently risen faster than before.
The UK also needs to deal with the short-term losses brought on by Brexit, which will drive the country’s development in terms of market opening and foreign trade, which is also a positive factor for China. For example, the British government said on Tuesday that it would not ban Chinese tech giant Huawei from being used in its 5G network construction. The UK’s demand for China will rise after Brexit. Such changes in mutual demands will be important factors in China’s future handling of its relationship with the UK and the EU.
The article was compiled by Global Times reporter Li Qingqing based on an interview with Cui Hongjian, director of EU Studies at the China Institute of International Studies. [email protected]