The UK must avoid constant crisis mode in its EU ties
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The UK must avoid constant crisis mode in its EU ties

David McAllister is a German MEP for the European People’s Party and chair of the European Parliament’s committee of foreign affairs

The main lesson learned from Brexit is that a complex process such as disentangling a large economy from the market it was so deeply integrated into over the past decades must be carefully assessed, planned and implemented. This process should be based on facts and not on empty promises. Apart from a somewhat abstract reference to “taking back control,” there have so far been no tangible benefits from Brexit either in terms of trade or in terms of GDP. No free trade agreement can ever match membership nor participation in the single market.

Secondly, the very serious practical difficulties citizens, businesses and supply chains are facing in the United Kingdom stem from the type of Brexit chosen by the U.K. government. The necessary consequences were well known in advance in London. 

The Withdrawal Agreement and the Trade and Cooperation Agreement have to be implemented on the agreed terms and in good faith. We need to de-dramatize and de-politicize the discussions and focus on real, practical, issues. Engaging with stakeholders in an open and transparent manner is essential. The EU has shown that it can listen and has put forward an unprecedented package of measures that provide flexibility on areas such as veterinary checks, customs facilitation or medicines in Northern Ireland. Triggering Article 16 [of the Northern Ireland protocol] would have a destabilizing effect. 

Thirdly, geographically-close neighbors and allies that share so much in terms of history and values cannot afford to get trapped in a permanent crisis mode. It is a waste of energy and resources, and also risky given the growing geopolitical uncertainties. We should seek new ways to broaden and deepen the EU-U.K. partnership on foreign affairs and defense. I am convinced it would be beneficial for both sides to maintain a close and lasting cooperation given our shared values and interests.