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Continuing debate on EU’s future after the Brexit vote

Today’s European media outlets continue to comment on the future of the European project after the Brexit vote of last month. Indeed, the outcome of the Brexit referendum has pushed the question of Great Britain and also the European Union’s future on the top of the agenda, writes Andis Sedlenieks, analyst at Diena daily.

Some media focus on the assumed explanation of it and of the global lack of faith in Europe. The European Commission has increasingly lost the trust of European citizens due to the perceived interference with their everyday lives, ARD comments, adding that EC President Jean-Claude Juncker hoped to counteract this development with his “political” European Commission. Historian José Pacheco Pereira shares this view, saying in Público that Europe is becoming increasingly distant from its citizens, believing it to be a consequence from those who supported external policies.

In an editorial in Sydsvenskan, Carl Rudbeck estimates that Brexit serves as a brutal wake-up call for the people who refuse to realise that the EU has changed. Indeed, he considers that EU has become a high and mighty project out of touch with its people. In a guest article in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, former Minister-President of Hesse Roland Koch also critically notes that excessive bureaucracy and lacking emotional bond between elites and the people are damaging the EU. He adds that European institutions need to withdraw from matters that are better regulated by national governments.

In an interview with Diário de Notícias, European Commissioner Moedas says that European politicians spend too much time debating if the solutions for the crises are to be found on the national or the European level. He also believes that there are problems that can only be tackled on a European level and that politicians must have the courage to admit it to their voters. Political philosopher Luuk Van Middelaar writes in De Tijd that the British referendum goes against the “ever closer union” dogma.

An opinion piece in Cinco Días states that the “ideal concept of the European Union is fading and this situation is provoking a damage in all the advances that had been made to improve the movement of people, goods and capitals among the different EU member states.” Several Hungarian media quote Mr Orbán as saying that following Brexit, the EU is reduced to the role of a regional player, and that the “idealisation” of Europe must be stopped.Other media are more focused on Brexit in itself. Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs Charles Flanagan explains in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung that he is disappointed over the results of the referendum and emphasises that Ireland is committed to a future in the EU.

The Daily Express reports on the reaction to news that the European Union is planning to offer the UK temporary curbs on immigration in return for access to the single market. This proposal has prompted an angry backlash among those who campaigned to leave the European Union. Also commenting on this “seven-year break” on free movement, The Daily Telegraph quotes the former work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith as saying that the proposal is unacceptable. The Times reports that Senior Conservatives have told the prime minister that the deal is totally insufficient and falls short of the demands of the voters. Moreover, during British Prime Minister Theresa May’s first official visit to France on 21 July, French President François Hollande made it clear that access to the single market and the principle of the free movement of people go hand in hand and cannot be separated, Le Monde reports.

Amid this tense situation, Rupert Soames, the Chief Executive of Serco, writes in The Daily Telegraph that the UK needs to show patience in its post-Brexit strategy to ensure that negotiations with the European Union are calm. He proposes that the UK should negotiate continued access to the European single market for a period of around five years. For her part, European Commission Vice-President Kristalina Georgieva said in an interview with Reuters quoted by that the UK will get a fair deal from the EU that will neither punish nor reward the country for leaving the union.

Ilta-Sanomat also writes that while there probably will not be any desire among EU member states to punish Britain for Brexit, the EU could be very adamant on not granting Britain any special rights in order to discourage other potential exiters. Meanwhile, European leaders are all in favour of the UK exiting the EU “as fast as possible”, and unofficial dealings have actually already started, L’Humanité notes. Other media propose some solutions aiming at restoring Europe’s credibility.

An opinion article by Marjolein Quené in Trouw considers the possibility for Europe to change its way of doing business after Brexit. According to her, Europe may return to its more social approach – also known as the Rhineland model – that considers the interests of employees, suppliers, customers and the social environment as well as the shareholders’ interest. The Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia have also thought up a plan to reform the EU, La Voz de Galicia reports, adding that Poland’s PM Beata Szydlo assured that the EU must return to its origins and focus more on citizens’ problems and less on institutional matters.

A commentary in Trouw reviews an opinion article by Eric ter Hark, who said that the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg should work more closely together to assume a leading role within the EU. According to Former Swedish Minister of Finance Anders Borg, for Europe to remain united, it is necessary to prevent the creation of a new political superstructure, he writes in Luxemburger Wort. Daily Pravda features an interview with State Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Plenipotentiary of the Government for Slovakia’s Presidency of the Council of the EU Ivan Korčok in which he says that Bratislava will host the informal meeting on Brexit, which will be attended by 27 EU members states’ leaders in September.



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