Why did the Brexit negotiations fail?
Great Britain's exit from the European Union has never been a technical matter, it has always been a political one. It is therefore not surprising that the negotiations to find a technical solution to this divorce have now in fact failed. Great Britain has enjoyed special rules and discounts for many decades to alleviate the political pain of membership. So why should a new discount (for fish) or a softened trade clause (no membership, but the same rules) suffice to pacify the rebellion that led to the exit four years ago?
Sovereignty was the rallying cry of this insurgent force, led by Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage. Johnson is now Prime Minister, supported by a group of sovereignty enthusiasts. As four years ago, the need for independence, self-reliance and lack of ties predominates. Britain is an island, is an island, is an island.
You cannot negotiate out of this sovereignty dilemma. As admirable as the negotiators' long-suffering is, in the end the conflict revolves around an understanding of sovereignty that is incompatible with the construction of the European Union. In the EU, states give up sovereignty and receive a higher value in return. You negotiate and accept a common set of rules and in return get the internal market with its inestimable economic advantages. Great Britain wants access to the internal market - but it refuses to submit to the rules because this prohibits "sovereignty".
Ursula von der Leyen should be careful and thwart Boris Johnson's dramatic final act in Brussels
No negotiation can resolve this contradiction in principle. It is based on a political attitude that only one can change: Boris Johnson. But because he lacks the majority, because he would have to eat his words from four years, because the Brexit movement has cultivated the idea of complete political freedom - for all these reasons there can be no agreement.
For the European Union, connecting Great Britain is of the utmost importance for political and economic reasons, but the price cannot be in sacrificing the credibility of the internal market. When the foundations of European integration crumble, the whole house quickly shakes.
The tensions of the past few days show that it is now primarily a matter of assigning guilt. Whoever cuts Britain's political ties to the European continent, whoever commits this greatest historical folly since the Suez Crisis in 1956, who naively ignores the economic entanglements of the world, has to act and shift responsibility. Commission President Ursula von der Leyen should therefore be careful and thwart Boris Johnson's dramatic final act in Brussels.
To stay in the world of images and history of Johnson: When the prime minister travels to Brussels, he is not allowed to stage a Dunkirk moment, the heroic retreat from the approaching enemy. The EU should offer an extension of the negotiation theater into January. Tricks can be found for this. In the end, the British government itself has to proclaim that Brexit ideology and Europe do not go together.
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