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Brexit: The media circus continues

Media outlets, especially in Germany and Austria, continue to provide various reactions regarding the post-Brexit situation; mostly expressing criticism towards the EU.

In a commentary for Austria’s “News” magazine, FPÖ Presidential Candidate Norbert Hofer stresses that the EU’s incapacity to act has led to the dissatisfaction which has reached its preliminary climax with the Brexit. He also believes that the EU as a political union is no longer accepted and has failed; thus, he calls for “a better EU, not an exit flurry”.

Wprost’s Jakub Mielniek considers that the British referendum does not seem to have brought about any deeper reflection among the EU’s elites. Enthusiasts of European federalism are clamouring for “more Europe” as a remedy to the Community’s current problems, he underlines. According to him, they seem to ignore that it was expressly the protest against the EU in its current form that caused the Brexit and fuels the popularity of euro-sceptics in many EU countries.

Along the same lines, Wolfgang Böhm highlights, in an editorial for Die Presse, that the EU, as an institution, has failed to stop undesirable developments through joint action. He considers that this is the reason why leaving the EU would change nothing. Mr Böhm further estimates that the European Commission under Jean-Claude Juncker’s presidency, which lacks any sensitivity for political developments, is also currently contributing to the decline of the community spirit.

In an opinion piece for Der Standard, German Minister of Foreign Affairs Frank-Walter Steinmeier cautions not to remain in shock or engage in frantic activity following the Brexit vote. People should rather be made to realise that the EU remains the best tool for meeting the challenges of a volatile world. Those who call for a demise of the EU do not solve the bloc’s problems but only exacerbate them, Mr Steinmeier warns.

In a harsh tone, European Parliament President Martin Schulz slammed European leaders who have failed to grasp the significance of the British referendum. “All they offer is debates behind closed doors in Bratislava”, he said in an interview with France Info. Mr Schulz also lashed out at Nigel Farage, who led the Brexit campaign and who, now that the vote is over, has decided to retire politically at the European taxpayers’ expense by staying an MEP. “There is no such thing as an EU law against political irresponsibility,” Mr Schulz exclaimed bitterly.

Several outlets note that Hungarian PM Viktor Orbán, in a FAZ article, called for the end of the “idealisation of the European project;” pointing to Brexit as evidence of the European Commission’s failings. In a more balanced commentary, Suomen Kuvalehti’s Vappu Kaarenoja writes that Leave campaigners have not thought about the relationship Britain will have with the EU after the Brexit while the ‘Remain’ campaigners were unable to express the EU’s concrete benefits properly, because the EU’s are incremental and almost imperceptible. “Brexit could break the EU if we don’t move swiftly towards reform,” reads an Irish Independent editorial.

Saturday’s daily Postimees contains an interview with the Estonian MEP Yana Toom (ALDE), saying that other unsatisfied EU member states may also attempt to hold their own EU referendum but that they are currently waiting to witness the Brexit’s consequences.  In an interview granted to Standart daily, European Commission Vice-President Kristalina Georgieva discusses the Brexit effect on the EU. According to her, the effect remains negative, especially for the UK, but EU member states realise they are stronger when united. Only together can member states, European institutions and EU citizens succeed, EC VP Georgieva underlines.

In related news, reports that, on 9 July, US President Barack Obama said he believes that Great Britain will withdraw from the EU after the “Brexit” victory in the referendum, although there is speculation that the vote could be cancelled somehow. “I think that the referendum that passed with great attention, a long campaign and relatively high participation rates will remain valid”, Mr Obama stressed.

In a commentary for Süddeutsche Zeitung, Christian Zaschke writes that doubts still exist over whether the country will really leave the EU. Meanwhile, the British government has rejected the petition calling for the referendum to be held again due to the tight margin of victory for the “Leave” camp; a topic further discussed in the Cypriot and French press, for instance. Mr Zaschke praises this decision, stating that the terms of the condition were common knowledge long before it was held, and that the results must be respected.

The biggest question that remains now, he says, is how the Brexit will be managed. The Times reports that German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said that the UK will not be able to “cherry pick” EU laws once they begin negotiating an exit deal from the bloc while a WSJE column looks at the complexities of the upcoming EU-UK negotiations, suggesting three areas in which proceedings could become acrimonious.

Meanwhile, it is also said, in The Daily Telegraph and The WSJE, for instance, that UK Chancellor George Osborne will travel throughout the world, starting today in New York, to reassure international investors on doing business with Britain in the wake of the vote to leave the EU.



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