Brexit: EU want to 'protect' single market 'integrity' says expert
Birmingham City University Professor and Director of Centre for Brexit studies Alex de Ruyter argued the European Union may face a backlash from member states if it caves in talks with Britain. While speaking to TRT World’s Brexit Talks, Professor de Ruyter claimed major concessions in the Brexit talks could frustrate member states. Should member states feel they are being undercut by the UK, they may push back against the bloc and make demands of their own.
This could cause major disruption in the union and ultimately threaten its existence going forward.
Professor de Ruyer also argued the importance at which the EU holds the Brexit trade talks with the United Kingdom.
He insisted the bloc is thinking beyond its relationship with the UK to its relationships with other member states.
He said: “For the EU, bear in mind, this is not a game of chicken, this is existential.
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“The EU’s overriding concern above all else will be to protect what it regards as the integrity of its single market.
“So if it strikes a trade agreement with a large geographically proximate neighbour that causes that neighbour some room to wriggle in future and undercut those standards in the single market.
“That is going to be a problem for the EU.
“That will send a clear message to the members of the EU who will then think they can make noise as well.”
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Prof de Ruyer insisted there are no “conscious” attempts from Brussels to make an example of the UK but the bloc has been mindful to avoid any deal that would leave Britain benefiting without having to follow common regulation.
He added: “Without necessarily trying to say that there is a conscious agenda for the EU, there is certainly a political imperative there.
“What you don’t want for a country that is leaving the club, is for that country to be seen deriding the benefits of membership without having to play by any of the other rules.
“There is certainly a sense there in fact in the talks.”
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The Brexit experts then reflected on the EU’s ability to deal with friction within the bloc from frustrated member states.
Professor de Ruyter said: “The EU is not good at problems in that regard either.
“It is trying to get a stimulus package through that all 27 nations will agree on.
“While it is got Hungary and Poland playing hardball.”
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