Rebooting Friendships After Brexit

What Happens After the Withdrawal Negotiations?

Strategic Communications

April 25, 2019

EU and UK flags

Everyone is so bogged down in the cut and thrust of the tortuous Brexit negotiations that we are in danger of losing sight of the importance for all Europeans of shoring up the genuine friendships and shared values of the UK and EU27. Louise Harvey, Non-Executive Chair at FTI Consulting Brussels, looks at the challenges that the United Kingdom and Europe face in rebuilding important relationships.

Every day brings a new conundrum relating to the withdrawal agreement between the British government and EU. On the EU 27 side, there is disbelief, disappointment and impatience at ongoing British twisting in the wind.

At some point, but it’s still not clear when or how, there will be conclusion to the terms of withdrawal. Then the fun starts when we get into the arguably even more challenging task of negotiating a new trade arrangement.

There are already signs that long-standing friendships are under strain. Anybody plugged in to Brussels has long been hearing continental Europeans vent about British politicians focused on party rather than national - let alone wider European - interests. Irish complaints that the UK had not thought about the damage to cross border trade and the peace process as a result of the leave vote - as if the UK itself had properly thought through its own domestic interest. The UK’s closest trading partners in the EU, including those geographically close such as The Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark and France are all also expecting their industries to take a hit, especially in the event of a crash out. Relative patience and has been replaced with increased exasperation.


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