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By Maeve Allsup
July 28 — Access to the EU single market is not in the cards for the U.K. following its decision to leave the European Union, French Ambassador to the U.S. Gerard Araud said.
“It is in our mutual interest to keep a close relationship with the U.K.,” Araud said July 28 in remarks at the Atlantic Council in Washington. However, “They can’t have the cake and eat it too,” he added
Freedoms associated with the single market—movement of goods, services, capitol and people—make access of vital interest to the U.K., he said, adding that therefore negotiations have the potential to become bitter.
Brexit debates will probably be very technical and drawn out negotiations, Araud said, adding that in six months he still thinks it unlikely that there will be a clear view of whether the U.K. is in the EU or not.
Sentiments among U.K. citizens that led to the referendum to leave the EU stem from public opposition to globalization, Araud said, which is an issue facing many western nations.
“We are facing a rebellion against globalization,” he said, adding that the next U.S. president will have to face the issue of how to respond to the public anger that has become so prominent during the election.
“Globalization has been very good for the poor on all of the crises that we are facing,” Araud said, pointing to the integration of eastern nations into the EU bloc.
Ambassador Frederic Hof of the Atlantic Council added that the conflict in Syria is at the epicenter of Brexit and other anti-globalization movements. “We are dealing with the symptoms of this,” Hof said.
The consequences of Brexit will be many and varied, Araud said, especially in the upcoming 2017 elections in both France and Germany (123 ITD, 6/27/16).
The EU issue will be at the core of political debates in France, as well as those around the western world, Araud said, adding that the “outburst of populism” is evident in all western democracies, from the U.S. and the U.K. to France, the Netherlands, Scandinavia and Italy.
“In Europe, the main target is the EU,” he said, increasing the risk of disintegration or unraveling of the 28-nation bloc.
Looking ahead, the EU sanctions against Russia are likely to be lifted in the near future, as many Europeans are also feeling negative repercussions, Araud said.
“I don’t know when that day will come,” Araud said, “but I think sooner than later.”
The EU votes to renew the sanctions every six months, Araud said. The next debate will take place at the end of December, he said.
Despite the potential for lifting EU sanctions in 2017, it is unlikely that the U.S. will follow this lead, analysts have said.
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