After four years of controversy and debate, the UK, after all, withdrew from the EU, Brexit ended. But Britain did not leave Europe, because the country is not only “geologically” tied to the continent, the link between Britain and the EU is quite powerful in the cultural aspect, writes the Financial Times.
In the new year, it would be a grave mistake for British government ministers to continue their somewhat “dismissive tone” of behavior. On the contrary, once Brexit ends, the British should begin the process of restoring the friendship and respect that have been lost.
The English Channel between France and England does not separate the countries so much from each other. Recently, however, the EU and the UK have felt too distant.
Many businesses worry about more than just the terms of a trade agreement: they can be tolerated. The loss of trust between the parties can be a bigger problem. The European Allies have been amazed at Britain’s remoteness over the past four years. This helped Brussels view Brexit as a purely British problem.
Tensions between the UK and the EU are not new. Recently, however, the situation has worsened even more. In many European capitals, there is a feeling that Britain has decided to become “alienated.”
However, despite its intention to leave the EU, Great Britain is completely European in its aspiration to fight climate change, Islamist extremism, and aggressive policies of Russia and China. As the world enters a new era of great power competition, Britain can only project its soft power and liberal democratic values in partnership with other like-minded nations.
For many people, one of the significant benefits of EU membership was mechanisms that fostered mutual understanding and cooperation. In its quest to return to the rest of the world, the British government should not lose sight of the opportunity to deepen its ties with countries that end up in the vicinity.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has a chance to do so and change the tone when Britain takes over as chair of the G7 next year and hosts the UN climate summit in November. The democratic world wants to see Britain open to cooperation, the newspaper concludes.
In December, the EU and Britain agreed on the terms of a trade agreement. Until February 28, it will be applied on a temporary basis. Before the end of the transitional regime, the agreement must be approved by the European Parliament.
The future of relations between Great Britain and the European Union was at stake. There was a great chance that the parties would not be able to come to an agreement – and then the situation would develop according to a scenario unpleasant for them. Read how Hard Brexit was avoided – what did Britain and the EU agree on.