EU ambassador urges new approach as bloc and UK suffering ‘traumatic stress’ after Brexit

Brexit: Scotland and Wales backed to rejoin EU by MEP

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EU ambassador to the UK João Vale de Almeida said Brussels had suffered from “five years of traumatic experiences” following the result of the 2016 EU referendum. Summarising his experiences of Brexit, Mr Vale de Almeida said on Wednesday evening: “The jury is still out in terms of the perception of Brexit, it is clear that Covid has hidden the effects of Brexit to a large extent so I think we still need to wait a few months if not a couple of years to have a full assessment.”

But, he added: “What I see today is what I would maybe call a post-traumatic stress.

“We are living through the first months after Brexit but let’s be very clear but we are behind five years of traumatic experiences.

“Some call it a divorce, some will call it other things, it’s clear that it has been a difficult period and we need to overcome that.

“But for the moment, we are in this period and we have to manage it but my main point is to say we cannot allow this relationship to be hijacked by accidents, by flare-ups, we need to be able to manage it in a rational and serene way.”

Mr Vale de Almeida, who was appointed the EU’s top diplomat in London in February 2020, also claimed that to improve diplomatic relations and trust between both sides, “the levels of drama” needed to be curbed.

But, he also highlighted the importance of respecting British sovereignty when taking part in negotiations as outlined by Lord Frost and Boris Johnson.

Mr Vale de Almeida, said: “We absolutely respect the UK sovereignty.

“We respect the decision about Brexit, we regret it of course but we fully respect it.”

Brussels’ lead diplomat in the UK spoke out as tensions flared between both sides over the application of the Northern Ireland Protocol that governs the post-Brexit arrangements aimed at preventing a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland.

The Protocol was signed as part of the divorce deal but keeps Northern Ireland in the EU single market for goods.

The eurocrat stressed they were focusing on “finding solutions” to the Protocol and made clear: “We have a lot of work to do.”

Looking to the future, Mr Vale de Almeida said both sides will have “a lot to talk about”.

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But he warned that such communication between London and Brussels should be done with “less politicization”.

The eurocrat also said there should be “fewer attempts to score points on disputes of the past but trying to build a future together because we are neighbours, we will change our geography, we are allies”.

He added: “I’m sure we will continue to be allies, we have common strategic interests, economic interests as well.”

But he admitted: “It will always be a complex relationship, it will be more competitive than in the past but competition is good but I want it to be a constructive relationship.”

 

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