The immigration challenge in a divided Europe
Estonia in an evolving Europe
Brexit has been bad for Europe thus far.
The most immediate problem is bandwidth, particularly in London but also in EU-27 capitals, as endless Brexit debates distract attention from other challenges. For example, leaders scrapped a discussion on China at the March European Council to discuss Brexit deadlines. Even if a divorce is agreed, negotiations on the future relationship could take years.
Despite historic British resistance to deeper integration, the U.K. is a global player whose participation has benefitted EU policymaking. Although protracted Brexit arguments have strained relations, European diplomats lament the impending loss of regular contact with their British counterparts on a myriad of issues.
In economic terms, Brexit will affect the U.K. more than the EU. Yet the nature and extent of Brexit’s impact on all member states will depend on how Britain leaves the EU and the future degree of regulatory alignment. A no-deal departure would hinder continental supply chains and markets, whereas continued British participation in the Customs Union and/or Single Market would minimize disruption. Beyond quarrels about the backstop, Brexit has destabilized politics in Northern Ireland by resurfacing contentious identity and constitutional questions.
[U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May has] very clearly been putting the interest of party unity first [but has failed to win over her pro-Brexit MPs who demand the EU make more concessions. Now] the only alternative is to pivot in the other direction and try to get some support from Labour MPs.
No other country has been so deeply in denial about the tension between its high-minded normative convictions and its own selective compliance with them. Germany today is - for all its wealth and power, including soft power - also increasingly lonely, overwhelmed and beset by internal rifts.