According to statements made public in the British press, the European Union is afraid of being left “fighting for its survival” if the UK secures a strong trade deal at the end of the Brexit transition.
The news follows tense negotiations between Britain and the EU over the level of trade relations they will have once the Brexit transition ends in December. Sputnik has spoken to political commentator Keith Rowe to give more insight into the matter.
Sputnik: How significant are these reported fears from Brussels that the EU will be left fighting for its survival if the UK secures a decent trade deal? What do they represent in your eyes?
Keith Rowe: When you say decent trade deal, do you mean a decent trade deal with the EU? Well, I would have thought that’s in the EU’s advantage if we get a decent trade deal. They want to keep us on side. We buy a lot of stuff, of all types, from the EU. It’s in their interests for us to have a deal.
The point is they wanted it to be as strongly biased in their favour as they can get and I think the British position is that we just want a straightforward, Canada++ style trade deal.
That’s in their best interests, I suspect that they won’t be able to agree with that and unless they really knock some heads together very, very quickly and realise that they’ve got to compromise strongly I suspect that, while it might be in their interests to have a good trade deal with the UK, that they won’t achieve one in time for us to leave. They might achieve one after, but they won’t achieve one in time for us to leave.
Sputnik: What impact will Brexit have on the legacy and success of the EU?
Keith Rowe: It’s going to have a massive effect on the EU in lots of different ways. First of all, Sweden and others are realising that they’re actually more restricted, and they lose more than they gain by being members of the EU, and they may well look to either loosen the arrangement with the EU if that’s at all possible – we tried and failed but they may succeed – or they’ll look possibly and some people will look for them to leave the EU.
I think it’s too soon for us to say that Brexit is going to lead to a complete breakup of the EU, but it’s certainly going to have an effect on them in that respect. Also, Brexit is going to have a huge effect on the economy of the EU.
It’s going to leave really all of the European economies much, much weaker and they’ve got to realise that they’ve been subsidised by the UK for far too long in my opinion and those subsidies by virtue of our membership payments and others are going to stop very, very soon. When that stops, they’ve got to rebalance their budget and they’re in financial dire straits as it is.
So, they’ve really got to get their heads together over there, and there are going to be some big changes. Never mind the fact that it’s also going to affect the balance of power between the two major powers left in the EU, Germany and France, and that there is going to be all sorts of issues around that. So, there’s going to be a big change.
Sputnik: Looking to the future now, what challenges still remain for Boris Johnson, Britain’s government, and Brexit going forwards as we enter further negotiations?
Keith Rowe: Well, the challenges are there, the challenges really are combined with the fact that through nobody’s fault in this country, we’ve been hit by this horrendous coronavirus pandemic and that’s held everything back and it’s held back our economy terribly. Boris Johnson has, once we come out of that pandemic, a huge opportunity.
Our percentage of exports going outside the EU are growing, our percentage of exports that we’re selling to the EU are shrinking, and we’ve got a great opportunity here to build wonderful trade deals with the major economies across the world, particularly with America, and particularly with the Commonwealth countries, such as Australia who’ve been talking about it for ages and of course, they’re open goals for us.
As soon as we get those deals going, the opportunities for trade, the opportunities for really getting the economy back on track, are there. It is going to take time. We’ve taken a huge hit, as has pretty much every economy across the world due to the coronavirus, but I think we should be as long as it’s managed correctly in a very strong position to bounce out of this as quickly as anybody.
It’s not going to be easy. It’s not going to be quick. You don’t want it too easy and you don’t want it too quick. You want to have steady growth and steady back to normality and build from there. You don’t want things too quick because then can fall apart. So I think we’re in a very strong position and I’m optimistic.