On April 10, at an emergency summit in Brussels, heads of the 27 states and governments of the European Union preliminary agreed to grant the UK a new delay for leaving the EU (Brexit) until October 31. Although British Prime Minister Theresa May insisted on a short extension until June 30, the EU leaders did not meet her halfway and decided to postpone Brexit for six months. President of the European Council Donald Tusk stressed that within this period time the UK can fully abandon its plan to leave the EU. At the same time, the EU leaders will once again assess the situation at the next summit in June.
Hours-long debates at the EU summit last Wednesday showed that Brussels has gotten quite fed up with London’s whims and gave the British government one last chance to put an end to the Brexit related red tape. But will six months be enough for Theresa May’s Cabinet to solve this daunting task?
The recent months have shown that it is impossible to achieve unity on the Brexit issue either inside the ruling conservative party or at negotiations with opposition Labor Party. Without reaching consensus between the main political parties the British parliament will not approve the Brexit deal, which in turn would lead to a “tough” scenario for Britain to leave the EU. Without that deal the "divorce" between London and Brussels will be disastrous for both parties.
At least, there is a high probability that after Brexit the UK will become more unstable and unpredictable. This instability will have alarming consequences for the European Union and the rest of Europe. Both British and European analysts recognize this fact. Apparently, Brussels also understands this. It is for this reason that EU leaders have taken into account the possible political and economic consequences of the hasty and chaotic Brexit.
Of course, London will be mainly to blame for this. But if the Brexit procedure, which is expected to show professionalism, political maturity and unity of the EU, fails, no one will benefit from it except for the Euro-skeptics, right-wing nationalists, and populists hoping to succeed at the elections to the European Parliament next month. By the way, under the current circumstances, the United Kingdom will also have to take part in this election.
It seems ridiculous, especially considering that neither the EU countries leaders, nor the leading political parties in the UK are happy about this possibility. Moreover, the British government will be under pressure of the hardliners against the EU within the conservative party who might call on May's government to sabotage the EU’s activities in every way.
In order to dispel these concerns, London needs to move away from such issues as electing a new European Commission President in October and drawing up a long-term EU budget. It seems that Theresa May is willing to make such a commitment. However, this obligation will need to be fixed legally so that in case of May’s resignation her successor cannot cancel it...
As for the widely popular opinion in the West that Russia is interested in the collapse of the European Union, and that is why Brexit would only play in its favor, all of this is nothing more than groundless speculation. Moscow has repeatedly stated that it is interested in a strong and united Europe, and it does not need any upheavals in the Old World. The explanation is quite simple - European countries today are the largest trade and economic partners of Russia. In 2018, trade between Russia and the EU countries alone reached $294.167 bln, even despite the current economic sanctions against our country.
It is important to note that, unlike Western politicians who use anti-Russian sanctions in their game, Western entrepreneurs, first of all German businessmen, have formed their own opinion on the situation in five years of the crisis in the European-Russian relations. In this regard, they decided to accelerate the resumption of bilateral cooperation. In particular, Head of the German Committee on Eastern European Economic Relations Michael Harms was talking about this earlier in an interview with German OWC.
In his opinion, first of all, it is important “to reach those who make decisions at the state level,” including people in the European Union. According to Harms, “a strategic partnership with Russia is necessary, and the EU’s anti-Russian sanctions only added bureaucracy”. At the same time, he drew attention to the fact that Washington was the initiator of this policy. They “deliberately instill uncertainty” into European companies with their restrictive measures against Moscow.
It should be emphasized, that German entrepreneurs are not alone in their approaches to doing business in Russia. Despite the serious crisis of political relations between Moscow and London, Russian-British trade and economic ties are developing successfully. Last year, the trade turnover between the two countries grew by 7.9% and amounted to $13.743 bln.
There is certain confidence that, after Brexit, business relations between Russia and the United Kingdom will develop successfully. There are prerequisites for this. At least, a large delegation of representatives of British business is expected at the 23rd St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF-2019) in coming June, where they plan to hold a separate meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.