Britain is leaving EU and representatives from continental Europe struggle to control their emotions. They get carried away by grievance (“the Brits spoil it for us”), temptation of revenge (“we will make them pay for this”) and need of exemplary punishment (“the EU is perfect”) in order to prevent exit of other EU members.
All of these feelings are quite well known to us from the times of the partition of the Czechoslovak federation. We remember how important it was to not succumb to such emotions, because it led to good neighbourly relations twenty years later. We had to be broadminded and pragmatic to reach our goal.
European Commission started negotiations and it is apparent that it fails to control the above mentioned emotions. The temptation of revenge wins over composure. The position of EU citizens within the UK is the first point of negotiations. The EU commission chose the most complex issue and it will set a negative mood right from the beginning of negotiations. It is quite clear that ratification of international agreements in all member states will not be achieved on time. (Czechoslovakia set all exit rules through a new federal law.) Theresa May has not promised an easy agreement as she rightly assessed the negative mood of European politicians. It would be irresponsible of her to promise an easy way out. The only outcome in this case would be deep disappointment
EU clearly wants to punish the United Kingdom. It is not so clear what is the reason behind it. Right to end an EU membership is part of the Treaty of Lisbon. None of the EU members should be punished for using its legal right. It has been part of European moral and traditional legal system. This example shows how distant is the EU from traditional European values and it also shows incapability to act responsibly and within democratic principles.
Negotiations are more and more similar to the ones that took place in Yugoslavia. Slovenia was meant to be punished for its decision to leave the Yugoslavian federation via military force and other obstructions in 1990. The same scenario was repeated in Croatia. Temptation of revenge outbalanced other reasonable solutions during disintegration of Yugoslavia-causing harm to the other country even for the price of apparent self-harm.
The Czechoslovakian scenario was focused on reduction of loss and damage. Federal cooperation was transformed to a set of bilateral agreements within a couple of months. We started with simple problems and proceeded gradually to more complex ones. As the number of agreements was rising the atmosphere became more positive and feelings of insecurity diminished.
Why has been EU proceeding in the opposite direction? It is because it favours its propagandistic goals over pragmatic political solutions. The above mentioned proves how deep the European Union’s deficit of democracy is. It is certain that free market is the absolute minimum that needs to be agreed on. If the free market issue was solved as one of the first problems, both sides would be more open to negotiate other questions. Why does the European Union postpone negotiations on trade relations to the end? Thousands of EU citizens work in companies that export to the UK, there is more people who are considerably affected within EU than in the UK itself. Jobs of these people are questioned by the European Commission. Instead of strengthening trust and stability, the European Commission creates doubts and uncertainty by postponing this issue to the end. The Union takes these people as hostages. There might be more unemployed citizens on the European side of the channel than on the British one.
The Czech Republic exports to the UK more than imports at the moment. It is our fifth, sometimes even forth biggest business partner. We export goods worth about 200 billion CZK every year. The Czech government most likely counts on our low unemployment. Czech citizens would probably find another job soon. Nevertheless, I believe that it is the duty of Czech politicians to defend the interests of those companies that trade and cooperate with Britain. We should call for the European Commission to change its negotiating tactics.