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Amid the Brexit Chaos, E.U. Sees a ‘Catastrophic Success’

From the perspective of the European Union, the whole exercise has been something of a nightmare, Mr. Zuleeg said. But once Britain voted to leave, Article 50 was the only legal mechanism. “The E.U. would say it made a number of concessions to the U.K. but preserved its principles, making the best deal possible given British red lines,” he said.

Of course, the bloc deals only with governments, not with parliaments or the public, and Brussels was eager to try to help Mrs. May get her deal through. “But if it now looks like that is not in her power, no matter what the E.U. puts on the table, the inclination is not to put anything more out there,” he said. “And some still feel that the closer the U.K. gets to a no-deal, the more likely it is that they will compromise.”

There is little regret among European officials about their role in the talks. As Mr. Leonard said, the European Union’s primary goal from the start has been to preserve the single market, get money from Britain, preserve the rights of European Union citizens, make sure that Ireland is protected, and make leaving look unattractive to other countries.

The member states held together, he said, adding: “Brussels never sold out Ireland, as much as the U.K. may have wished it to.”

Some analysts found fault with both sides.

“The negotiations have been in a certain way a failure, more diplomatically than politically,” said Luuk van Middelaar, a Dutch philosopher and former aide to the first president of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy. Being an institution of laws and regulations, Brussels paid too little attention to the strategic and geopolitical importance of Britain to Europe, he said, focusing on trade first, where Brussels held the cards, and security later.

Source: NYT > World

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