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Who Will Want to Trade with us after Brexit?

If the Brexit trade negotiations of the last year have shown anything, it has shown how unwilling and inflexible the European Union is when it comes to negotiating trade. This of course wouldn’t be such a problem if it weren’t for the fact that the whole foundation of the European Union is built on the principle that we are a free trading block. That we as a collection of European economies hold more weight on the international market together than we do apart.

However, what Brexit has shown us is that if anything we are too inflexible and too zealous when it comes to protecting our own standards, that we are willing to throw away our closest and most important trading relationship.

EU exports into the UK were worth €412 billion – that includes round €50 billion in the automotive industry, €20 billion in pharmaceuticals, and €13 billion in electrical appliances. We must be mad to think that we can do without such trade flows from Europe to the UK, especially when many of these sectors will be important to our recovery post-COVID.

And what is the reason why the EU doesn’t believe that trade is possible? Because they are unwilling to let go. Rather than accepting that a Britain outside of the European Union can be responsible for maintaining its own regulatory standards, Brussels has insisted that they must remain subject to their own.

As well as going against the very will of what the British people had hoped to achieve in leaving the European Union, the EU has shown that it is un trusting of democratic partners the world over at looking after their own regulatory affairs.

This of course this isn’t new – the European Union has long failed to reach agreements with third parties over the issue of standards. Most notably is the case of the United States. US exports to the European Union in 2019 were worth $468 billion; imports were worth $598 billion. And yet, because the United States was unwilling to change its regulatory standards to match the European Unions, all of those faced expensive tariffs limiting the scope for further trade.

And yet would anyone really question the regulatory standards of the United States? As was pointed out by the outgoing US Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Purdue on a recent ECR Party webinar – millions of Europeans travel to America every year and none of them seem to have any problems with food or goods there.

The problem therefore is the self-aggrandising belief of eurocrats that somehow the European Union does it better, and to compromise on standards is somehow a sign of weakness. But what it ignores is that many countries outside of the Europe have equivalent standards, and in some cases better – whilst other countries might need more time to reach the same level.

This inflexibility is what is ultimately costing European businesses the opportunity to sell their goods further afield. But what’s more, is that the zealotry with which the EU insists on enforcing its standards is what is putting off other democratic allies from trading with the European Union. It thus begs the question, who will want to trade with us if we are so unwilling to compromise in order to accept the good over the perfect.