Most British consider themselves Europeans
Goodbye, Britannia! : Brexit can also be a win for Europe
Great Britain leaves the EU at midnight this Friday. The exit marks an end, that too. But more important is: it opens up the opportunity for a new relationship. Besides many disadvantages, it can bring good things to Germans, Europeans and British. It is not certain. It depends on whether they leave behind the disappointment and mutual resentment that has accompanied Brexit since the referendum three and a half years ago and accept the bet on the future with an open eye.
A practical test to see whether there is another way
A majority of Britons say: We can achieve the future we envision sooner outside the EU than within it. Most Germans and Europeans think: that can't be. It mustn't be either. The EU is our life insurance. Anyone who leaves the EU must have disadvantages. Otherwise the example catches on.
Hopefully this thinking will change. The first stage went well again. A hard Brexit was averted; A transitional regulation will come into effect on Saturday, which for the time being leaves a lot the same. All have focused on the common interest of avoiding harm and granting the partner the freedom to succeed.
Will the British be more successful outside the EU?
It must now continue like this when the future relationship is negotiated - in the far too short period of eleven months. How about this stance: it is legitimate for the British to leave the EU provided they pay their debts. Brexit is a singular case without copycats because, firstly, the drama of recent years is a deterrent. And secondly because no other EU country that is similarly anchored in the global economy is considering leaving.
We are curious whether the British are more successful outside the EU and how they do it. We see their success, if it does, as our advantage, because it would show where the EU can do better. The EU can also learn from anything that is not doing so well for the British.
So far, British proposals about what the EU should do differently have mostly been perceived as a nuisance. Whether their ideas on trade, finance and migration policy were good or bad remained a theoretical dispute. The EU could not try both options in parallel laboratory tests and compare the results. Now comes the practical test. Britain is gaining the freedom to experiment that it didn't have in the EU.
Fears of dumping standards and taxes
Fears of dumping are promptly circulating on the continent. London will reduce standards for food, consumer protection and workers' rights. And court companies with lower taxes. To the detriment of the EU. It is possible, but unlikely.
Surveys show: the British tick like the continental Europeans. They don't want to forego high standards or public services, including free healthcare; But they could not be financed with falling taxes. They also deal with the 5G network and Huawei in a very similar way to the EU.
Great Britain does not seek its competitive advantage in dumping. But in flexibility and speed. The colossus EU is slowly reacting to challenges, from artificial intelligence to migration, including recruiting the world's best minds, to financial services.
The productive power of competition
If London is freed from EU shackles, it wants to make faster decisions, act more attractively and be more open to global exchange than the often protectionist EU.
This competition is good for Germany. It is true that Berlin loses an ally in Brussels with Brexit. In the struggle with state-controlled economies like France for trade and regulation, London stood in the liberal camp. After leaving the UK, in the best-case scenario, it will go from being an internal troublemaker to an external troublemaker who uses the productive power of competition to drive Europe to improve.
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