We have to make BREXIT work, and we have to make the EU work better

With the advent of Theresa May as the new British Prime Minister, we move one step closer to Article 50 being activated.  She has made it clear that she will respect the will of the British population with regard to BREXIT.


In the context of any divorce negotiations, two points are worth making.  The first point is linkages between the EU and British economies are so great, and so entwined, that what is good for one (economically), will also be good for the other.  In the mid to longer term, both economies will rise and fall together.  The negotiators must therefore look for an outcome on which stronger EU and British economies can be built.  This leads to the second point, thornier problem:  how to achieve that positive outcome, while at the same time deterring other EU Member States from following suit? 


In the media, one can read the views of many politicians calling for the UK to be treated harshly, to be punished for leaving, so as to set an example for other wannabe ‘exiteers’.  This is surely missing the point.  I am a member of a football club in Brussels.  They do not deter me from leaving by threatening to taser me; instead, they look to improve the quality and breadth of services on offer – to make me want to stay (and perhaps to make others who have left regret their choice).


Europe should be about the bigger idea, it should be about offering a compelling vision, it should be about improving the lives and prospects for all its citizens (old and new).  That will only be achieved if the negotiators look to make Brexit a success, and make the EU an even bigger success.

Some work to do, then.


Paul Skehan

Director General*



*in his capacity as permanent representative of Skehan sprl