Europe after the Brexit (#5)

(Like Europe, this page is under construction ...)

This page is an attempt to follow the most important events resulting from the Brexit (including the British referendum itself) and to (try to) explain what it could mean for France and how it is perceived in France and in other European countries.
How it is perceived in France ...
.... and in the other European countries
June 23, 2016

In Britain, 52% of the people vote to leave the European Union (a majority in England and Wales, a minority inScotland and Northern Ireland).

A negotiation will begin only after the UK notifies it to the EU (Article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon).

  • For many, the UK has never been considered a reliable partner and it will not be missed (this relates to the traditional Anglo-French antagonism)
  • Only the Extreme-Right (Front National) and the Extreme Left made positive statements about Brexit (Frexit is in their policy)
  • Read my column (in 2011!) : "Good news for Europe : UK steps out"
  • Most countries are deeply shocked : Poland because of the xenophobia behind Brexit, Spain because of the influence of Scotland on Catalonia, ...
  • Some countries may be tempted to follow UK and leave the EU : Denmark ?
July 13 Theresa May, British PM
  • no comment
  • no comment
October nothing happens ....
  • many people fear a British strategy : playing with time to exhaust and divide the European countries
  • this is the general European feeling
Nov. 9 Donald Trump elected
  • the new US president is considered an additional complication to the situation created by the Brexit
Jan.2017 Six months after the Brexit, the anti-Europe movements observe that is is much more difficult to leave the union than to talk about leaving, and all of them (5-Stelle in Italy, Front National in France, AfD in Germany) are now keeping a lower profile about leaving. In the European Parliament, 5-Stelle now considers splitting with UKIP.
Jan 18 The British PM announces a "hard Brexit" and threatens to turn Britain into a giant tax haven if she does not reach a satisfactory agreement
  • shocked by the tone used by the British PM
  • ready for a tough negotiation
Jan. Newly elected president Trump officially supports the Brexit and wishes more countries will follow the UK
  • it is largely considered an additional sign of the allegiance of the UK to the US
  • it depends on the country ...
Feb. The British Parliament examines a law authorizing the government to start the process of Brexit with the E.U. It is voted on March14.  
  • March 14, the Scottish PM announces a referendum on independence in 2018
Dec. 2017 The first step of Brexit is agreed between UK and the EU : what UK owes to EU (40 to 50 billion Euros), the status of expats on boths sides and the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland.
  • The French are always wary of the well-known British ability in negotiating...
  • Some of them are very upset with Britain (like Poland)
  More to come ....    
Some of the main issues of Brexit   .... and specifically for France

The Brexit will lead to long negotiations mostly between the UK and the EU, some bilateral and others internal within some European countries (U.K./Scotland, for example). Some of them could be favorable to the E.U. and others not.  Here is a tentative list of the main issues :

  • (of course) In the negotiation UK/EU, the UK will try to keep some of the advantages of being a member of the EU (access to a large free trade zone, free access for financial services and capital flows, participation in the successful European projects like Airbus, free circulation of British citizens, etc) and refuse any form of reciprocity ; the UK will possibly be helped by some countries (like Denmark) against the interests of the EU. Read my column about UK and Europe.

  • The Brexit may have a direct impact on the stability of some countries with a stronger desire for independence of┬áprovinces who are attached to their own culture, some of them rich and powerful like Scotland (UK), Flanders (Belgium) or Catalonia (Spain), others less so like Corsica (France) plus a possible impact on Northern Ireland and Gibraltar

  • The Brexit may put an end to the negotiations over a commercial transatlantic treaty (TTIP) between the USA and the EU

  • The Brexit will seriously impact the important British community in France (400,000 ?) : the many retirees will receive a pension in devaluated sterling, the others will lose access to the labor market, etc.

  • It will be the end of the enlargement of the EU : probably forever for Turkey and for a few years at least for the Balkan countries (Albania, Montenegro, Serbia, Bosnia and Kosovo)

  • As of today, it is hard to predict what might happen on the other major political issues : how to make a clearer difference between the countries who want essentially a free trade zone and those who try to go further toward a kind of an European confederation, how to improve the governance of the EU, how to address the problems raised by the important flow of migrants and many others . . .

  • Other issues :

    • Language : why would English play such an important role when it is now the official language of only two countries (Ireland and Malta) representing less than 3% of the population ? (Read more about languages in Europe)
    • More to come...
  • More to come . . .

Back to the Hundred Years War ?


Many specific issues to address for France and the French :

  • Existing cooperations : Today, the most advanced and efficient bilateral military cooperation is between the UK and France, the two most powerful armies in the (former) EU : how will it work in the future ?

  • Previous stupid statetments : Can you say 'finance is my only enemy' (President Hollande, 2012) and raise taxes to an absurd level and, four years later, announce that in Paris, the red carpet is ready for the businesses who will have to leave London for continental Europe (President Hollande, 2016) ?

  • Intra-European migrants : migration was the key-issue of Brexit, but what about the 400,000 British citizens who live in France (often retired) and the 300 to 400,000 French citizens who live and work in London ?

  • More to come . . .

DID YOU KNOW THAT .....? The Brexit was a shock for Europe (and for UK too...) but it was not unexpected. From the very beginning, UK joined the club with the project to use it for its own interest only and if possible to change the rules. This policy was supported by a popular press which has been hysterically anti-European. Do you want an example ? Read this list of falsehood published in the British press in 2003.

To related pages : more facts on Europe (#1), building(#2), European institutions (#3), European facts & figures (#4), issues and achievements (#6), etc.

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Harriet Welty Rochefort writes articles and books about France and the French. Order her books :

  • "Joie de Vivre", Secrets of Wining, Dining and Romancing like the French, St.Martin's Press, New York, 2012
  • "French Toast, An American in Paris Celebrates The Maddening Mysteries of the French", St.Martin's Press, New York, 1999
  • "French Fried, The Culinary Capers of An American in Paris", St.Martin's Press, New York, 2001

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