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The 27 very worried. Cameron very grumpy

(BRUSSELS2 *) After the shock of the referendum, Europe is trying to organize itself, to best prepare for the divorce with the United Kingdom. Only problem, the British Prime Minister has still not officially notified his departure from the European house. The concern is great

Between sofa and garage

Europe with the United Kingdom is a bit like a household, faced with an unbearable child, who has decided not to suffer the chores of daily family life, announces loud and clear that he is leaving the door, with a few insults in passing, but at the last moment changes his mind, waddles, and stays… without saying how long he will leave. So we get organised… between the sofa and the garage. It is somewhat in this spirit that the 27 Heads of State and Government will meet with their British alter ego, David Cameron, today and tomorrow, to try to find a modus vivendi at 28 or 27 for the coming months…

Big concern from the top

The European summit being held in Brussels will thus be organized into two very distinct parts. First of all, this Tuesday, a discussion at 28 on the main issues of the moment takes place. Migrations, single market, situation in Libya, security strategy of the European Union, the subjects are not lacking, important. But we cannot say that they arouse great interest. The following day, Wednesday, a discussion is to take place, at 27… without the United Kingdom. An exceptional format brought to reproduce. It is a matter, confided a senior European diplomat, of discussing the " future "to see how" get organized but above all to send a message, urbi et orbi. The 27 are determined to continue the European adventure, more than ever. Between the two, there will have been a dinner, this Tuesday evening. Organized, in a "leaders only" format, with no witnesses other than the scrutineers of the European Council and the ushers, it promises to be epic. Prime Minister David Cameron is indeed eagerly awaited by some of his colleagues. He will have to explain » the situation in the United Kingdom. " An extremely confused and unstable situation judge of the representatives of member states.

We are waiting for Cameron with a firm footing

Everyone is indeed waiting for the British government to officially indicate its desire to leave the European Union. However, the result of the referendum is clear and leaves no room for ambiguity. But from a legal and political point of view, David Cameron must trigger what is called the Article 50 procedure. It is this official "notification" that triggers a whole process of negotiation allowing the process of leaving the UK. A " negotiation which promises to be long, complex and difficult underlines a European diplomat.

A future third state status somewhere between Norway and… North Korea

We must gently unravel all the close ties that unite the British island to the continent, without harming anyone but also without giving outrageous advantages to those who leave. Eventually, the United Kingdom will be a “third state” associated with the European Union. " We have many models in terms of foreign relations - a diplomat quips - ranging from Norway (very closely associated with the European market) to North Korea (which is subject to sanctions) via Switzerland, Turkey , the Balkan countries, etc. ».

UK fades away

The British flag still flies in Brussels at the headquarters of the European Union. But the first signs of the Kingdom's fading have already begun. The British commissioner, representative of the Kingdom to the European Commission, Jonathan Hill, in charge of financial services, has already announced his resignation. It is the Lithuanian Valdis Dombrovskis who is in charge of the interim while waiting for a hypothetical successor. All other high-level British appointments are shelved. The United Kingdom, which was to ensure within a year, on the 2e half of 2017 the presidency of the European Union, could pass its turn (read: Is the British Presidency in 2017 over?). It should be a small Baltic country, Estonia, which will take up the torch. And, more concretely, the European Banking Authority, a European institution based in London, could join Paris… or Frankfurt. The moving boxes are being prepared…


(Nicolas Gros-Verheyde)

  • (*) article published in the daily newspaper Sud-Ouest this morning

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).