The Bruges Group spearheaded the intellectual battle to win a vote to leave the European Union and, above all, against the emergence of a centralised EU state.

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Bruges Group Blog

Spearheading the intellectual battle against the EU. And for new thinking in international affairs.

Can Brexit be a success?

Reportedly the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, says Britain leaving the European Union cannot be a success. Well, that is quite understandable from the EU's point of view. After all Brussels' idea of a success is not entirely the same as what most Britons have in mind. The most successful outcome of the Brexit talks ahead from an EU point of view would be Britain remaining in the EU. Which is the worst outcome from a British perspective.

Michel Barnier, the EU chief negotiator, put this quite well when talking to reporters after a meeting with Norway's Prime Minister Erna Solberg in January where he said: "The best relationship with the EU must remain membership and after that it must be EEA membership." The third best option, from an EU point of view, is then probably a modern comprehensive free trade agreement like Britain aims for. From a British perspective this is, however, entirely the other way around.

While the EEA Agreement, through which the EFTA countries Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein are part of the EU inner market, is much lesser evil than EU membership it means the three countries must accept EU legislation regarding the inner market. The agreement also follows the same pattern as the EU. More integration within the EU market will sooner or later also spill into the EEA Agreement which is putting growing pressure on the EFTA countries' sovereignty.

When the EU speaks of success it therefore means being under Brussels' authority. As Barnier pointed out quite well. The more a country is tangled in EU regulations and directions the more the success. Or in other words, the less freedom countries have to govern themselves and make their own decisions to protect their national interests the better. Not better for the countries themselves but better for the EU.

So when Juncker says Brexit cannot be a success he actually means it cannot be a success for the EU. Brexit can, however, be a success for Britain and has every means to be just that. Even with no agreement with the EU. Freedom has, after all, always been the most essential element of success while submission is the recipe of failure. Brexit is ultimately first and foremost about freedom.

The leader of Iceland's independence movement in the 19th century, Jón Sigurðsson, once wrote that the world history was a witness to the fact "that people have prospered the most when they have governed themselves." This is certainly as true today as it was in the year 1841 when it was written. There is a reason, after all, why Iceland has constantly rejected EU membership and there is a growing debate in the country whether to ditch the EEA Agreement.


Norwegians reject the 'Norway option'
Scotland, Separation and the Brexit Question
 

Comments 1

Guest - Soarintothesky on Wednesday, 31 May 2017 22:01

"Which is the worst outcome from a British perspective." No. The worst outcome is no deal and a default to WTO terms. In which case the sane option would be to remain as we are. There is no economically better package than membership so negotiation has to reduce the price paid for the luxury of sovereignty, whatever that is, to acceptable proportions.

"Which is the worst outcome from a British perspective." No. The worst outcome is no deal and a default to WTO terms. In which case the sane option would be to remain as we are. There is no economically better package than membership so negotiation has to reduce the price paid for the luxury of sovereignty, whatever that is, to acceptable proportions.
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Sunday, 19 November 2017