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S. Micossi: A Fresh Start for the European Union After Brexit

image-06/30/2016 - 10:31I am still trying to process the shock of the UK referendum, which has dealt a historical blow to the European Union and has alerted us to the danger of the wave of anti-establishment and anti-elite sentiments shaking up developed nations, bringing about disastrous decisions that cannot be easily reversed. These movements are present in many European countries; we cannot underestimate the dangers of tumbling down the slippery slope of nationalism, which could put the very survival of the Union into question. A response from the EU, or from a smaller circle of its founding or main members, is necessary – as long as we can identify meaningful goals. 

We need to decide, first of all, what position to take vis-à-vis the United Kingdom. In my opinion, the problem is very complicated for them and far less so for the European Union. The UK needs to decide nothing less than it wants to retain access to the European Internal Market. Supporters of the Leave Campaign perhaps do not understand very well that this is wholesome package, and that portions of it cannot be negotiated à la carte. The four freedoms of circulation—goods, services, capital, and people—form the cornerstone of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), and they cannot be separated from one another. In particular, it is not possible to have the first three without the fourth. On this, there will not be and cannot be any negotiation between the Union and the United Kingdom (assuming it remains united after the referendum’s unfortunate results).

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