Europeans are taking comfort from how much the UK has lost in the Brexit negotiations. The UK has ended up fully opening its market to all EU goods, including agriculture. And it has done so in exchange for roughly the same access to the EU services market that the bloc has granted to countries on the other side of the world, which are not even major exporters of services, such as Vietnam.
But the UK’s losses in the negotiations are not European wins. They are a blow for the UK, but they damage the EU, too.
For the EU, Brexit was never just about trade but about international strength. That is why, when presenting the deal, Ursula von der Leyen, European Commission president, went out of her way to insist that the EU is still “one of the giants”, and a “great power” with “the largest single market” in the world.
In the negotiations, the UK’s flat refusal to become a rule-taker or recognise the European Court of Justice collided with the EU’s insistence on protecting the integrity of the single market at all costs.
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