The British prime minister has given the European Union’s 27 remaining member states good reason to stick together.
One surprising knock-on effect of the U.K.’s departure from the European Union, which became official last week, was to bind the bloc’s 27 remaining members closer together. The British had expected the red-carpet treatment from national governments desperate to keep selling Italian prosecco, German cars and French wine. They were instead shown the door by a united EU more focused on preserving the integrity of the single market, avoiding a return to a hard border in Ireland and settling the U.K.’s bill.
While you’d be hard-pressed to describe the EU as united on other issues, such as the upcoming budget, enlargement policy or fiscal harmonization, the solidarity around Brexit is still there. The bloc’s top negotiator Michel Barnier, once dismissed as a has-been but now the closest thing Brussels has to a rock star, is leading the charge for a regulatory “level playing field” to govern any future trade deal with the U.K. — backed by similar calls from politicians in France, Germany, Italy, Ireland, and the Czech Republic. National priorities such as fisheries for France and Gibraltar for Spain have become European ones.