[op-ed snap] What Brexit means for the EU and its partners


On January 31, 2020, the United Kingdom left the European Union, the EU project will be taken forward by the 27 member states.

A structured exit

  • Minimum disruption:  This is largely thanks to the Withdrawal Agreement that was negotiated with the U.K., which enabled “an orderly Brexit”.
    • One that, at least for now, minimises disruption for our citizens, businesses, public administrations, as well as for our international partners.
  • An arrangement of the transition period: Under this agreement, the EU and the U.K. agreed on a transition period, until the end of 2020 at least.
    • During which the U.K. will continue to participate in the EU’s Customs Union and in the Single Market, and to apply EU law, even if it is no longer a Member State.
    • During this period, the U.K. will also continue to abide by the international agreements of the EU, as we made clear in a note verbale to our international partners.

Building a new partnership between the EU and the UK

  • Degree of continuity: With the transition period in place, there is a degree of continuity. This was not easy given the magnitude of the task.
    • By leaving the Union, the U.K. automatically, mechanically, legally, leaves hundreds of international agreements concluded by or on behalf of the Union.
  • Building new partnership: That work will start in a few weeks as soon as the EU 27 Member States have approved the negotiating mandate proposed by the European Commission, setting out our terms and ambitions for achieving the closest possible partnership with a country which will remain EU’s ally, partner and friend.
  • Links and shared values: The EU and the U.K. are bound by history, by geography, culture, shared values and principles and a strong belief in rules-based multilateralism. Our future partnership will reflect these links and shared beliefs.
  • Working on topics beyond trade: Both sides want to go well beyond trade and keep working together on security and defence, areas where the U.K. has experiences and assets that are best used as part of a common effort.
  • Cooperation on the wide topics: In a world of big challenges and change, of turmoil and transition, we must consult each other and cooperate, bilaterally and in key regional and global fora, such as the United Nations, the World Trade Organization, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization or the G20.
  • Collective responses to handle global challenges: Today’s global challenges- from climate change to cybercrime, terrorism or inequality — require collective responses.
    • The more the U.K. is able to work in lockstep with the EU and together with partners around the world, the greater would be chances of addressing these challenges effectively.

Way forward

  • Continuing project forward as 27: At the very core of the EU project is the idea that it is stronger together; that pooling resources and initiatives is the best way of achieving common goals. Brexit does not change this, and efforts must be taken to continue this project forward as 27.
  • Note for the partners: EU’s partners can be sure that EU will stay true to an ambitious, outward-looking agenda-be it on trade and investment, on climate action and digital, on connectivity, on security and counter-terrorism, on human rights and democracy, or on defence and foreign policy.


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