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The EU Must Break the Brexit Deadlock

With the Brexit negotiations now in their final days, it is crucial that the European Union break the impasse and secure a deal. If Europe cannot even forge an agreement to establish its long-term relationship with the United Kingdom, it will have little chance of becoming a global power in its own right.

BERLIN – This week, we will finally know whether a Brexit deal can be agreed. Whatever is decided, it will have significant long-term implications for Europe, affecting not just the terms of trade and common rules but also the European Union’s place in the world. To be able to stand its ground and defend its interests vis-à-vis China and the United States, the EU must maintain a strong relationship with the United Kingdom and prove that it can adapt to changing global dynamics.

The importance of the current Brexit negotiations is only superficially linked to the commercial costs of the UK crashing out of the EU and having to adhere to World Trade Organization rules (though this would almost certainly create havoc for supply chains in the coming months). The looming political, social, and strategic costs are even more consequential.

After all, a no-deal scenario would deprive Europe of the foundation on which to build a future relationship with the UK. Pretty much everyone agrees that the goal should be to build a strong long-term partnership that respects UK sovereignty and gives each side sufficient space to pursue its interests. This is necessary even if, as many in the EU are wont to point out, nation-states’ sovereignty is inherently limited in a globalized world.