EU struggling to cope without UK as bloc ‘more politically fragmented’ after Brexit

Brexit: Lord Adonis says UK ‘could rejoin the EU’

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The EU’s single market commissioner, Thierry Breton, claimed Brexit has “weakened and isolated the UK”. Any concrete benefits for Britain are “hard to see”, Mr Breton said, while the pandemic has exposed even further downsides of a UK outside a collective bloc. His comments come five years on from the historic vote in 2016 which saw 52 percent of Britons make their disdain for Brussels heard.

The UK wouldn’t leave the EU for another four years, however.

Only at the turn of 2021 did the country officially exit the single market and customs union.

While many hailed it as a victory for Britain, Mr Breton, talking to the Guardian, said the promises made by Brexit campaigners were “far from reality” as the two powers build a new relationship.

Yet, myriad reports and studies paint a bleak picture for the EU.

In a paper published by the Centre for European Reform (CER) in 2019, it was suggested that the bloc will become “more politically fragmented” post-Brexit.

This was in part, it said, because the “European Commission and Parliament will be less likely to reflect British ways of thinking and working”.

The report said: “The new European Parliament will be more politically fragmented and less likely to back freer trade with third countries and market liberalisation internally.”

It did note, however, that this would not be a direct result of Brexit, but “because of the evolution of politics in the EU.”

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Yet, it added: “The departure of British MEPs from the European Parliament will, however, reinforce this trend.

“Conservative and Labour MEPs often worked hand in hand to support economically liberal policies.

“Populist parties, more supportive of protectionist policies, are expected to do well in the May European Parliament elections.

“Such parties are also likely to benefit disproportionately from the redistribution of 27 of the UK’s current seats among the remaining member states.


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“France and Spain will gain five each, and Italy three; and opinion polls suggest that eurosceptic parties could come out on top in the European Parliament elections in France and Italy.”

Eurosceptic parties went on to make major gains at the European elections in 2019, as well as environmentalist and liberal parties.

Brexit is also expected to affect the way the EU operates.

The “British way of working and administration” has increased operational efficiency within Brussels.

The extent of this was proved when the EU indicated that it wished to retain a number of British workers in Brussels who have permanent contracts, and would evaluate the position of temporary workers.

The bloc is not expected to recruit British workers in the future unless they have specific skills that EU nationals do not, however.

Meanwhile, the UK struck its first trade deal from scratch with Australia this month.

It was the first time the country had done so since leaving the EU.

A number of existing deals have also been renewed with countries around the world.

Any negatives of Brexit have so far been difficult to fully assess and separate from the fallouts inflicted by the coronavirus pandemic.

British exports to the EU have been hardest hit by new border formalities, despite a last-minute deal struck in December ensuring tariff-free trade.

Many of the initial “teething problems” reported in January have, however, since been smoothed-out.

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