Europe’s take on Brexit

Nicolai von Ondarza on how the EU-27 united to protect the single market

The World Today Updated 9 November 2020 Published 8 February 2019 3 minute READ

Nicolai von Ondarza

Head of the EU/Europe division, the German Institute for International and Security Affairs, in Berlin

It is rare to find a European policy these days that the German chancellor, the French president and the prime ministers of Hungary, Italy, Poland and Sweden can all agree on. Brexit is the exception.

While the British political elite is tearing itself apart over how to leave the European Union, the EU-27 have been remarkably united in their approach to the negotiations. This unity derives from a clear negotiation mandate by the 27 heads of state and government, a close coordination by the EU Commission – and four common European interests.

The first is to have a common approach to the exit negotiations and treat Britain as ‘a third country’ in the context of Brexit. In international politics, the Union’s greatest weakness is the ability of great powers such as the United States, Russia or, increasingly, China, to play divide-and-rule with European countries.

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