Friday 17 August 2018

Forget Brexit, the real European fears for the future lie much further afield

Europe is worried about Trump and Putin - but Brexiting Britain has become an irrelevance, says Dan O'Brien from Riga

GLOBAL FORCES: From left, Russian President Vladimir Putin, International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and French President Emmanuel Macron at the St Petersburg International Economic Forum in Russia last week.
GLOBAL FORCES: From left, Russian President Vladimir Putin, International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and French President Emmanuel Macron at the St Petersburg International Economic Forum in Russia last week.
Dan O'Brien

Dan O'Brien

I spent the second half of last week in the Latvian capital at a think-in organised by the European People's Party, the political grouping of European centre-right parties. Their "European Ideas Network" brought together MEPs from that party and a range of non-political analysts to ponder topical matters.

Listening and chatting to politicians in thinking mode can be interesting. Engaging with a large group of politicians from the length and breadth of the continent is always interesting.

Over the course of two days, and in contrast to political discourse in Ireland, Brexit was hardly mentioned. One person said in a conversation over dinner that Britain was already a de facto non-member. More relevant, from an Irish perspective at least, was the rock-solid support for Ireland for whatever position it took on the border. As it is difficult to see how the Irish and British positions can be reconciled, the prospect of Brexit talks failing and a chaotic situation in 300 days' time is increasingly real.

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