Brexit: Sadness and relief – European papers’ view

31 January 2020

There is no escaping the melancholy in many European papers marking Britain’s departure from the European Union (EU). Images of a rent EU flag or its broken and scattered stars illustrate the fears many have for Brexit’s impact on the union.

There’s also relief that this milestone has finally been reached, and there are hopes of rebuilding ties with Britain as a trading partner.

Some believe Britain will find new strength in its self-reliance. But accompanying this is a continued wariness of the uncertainty in trade negotiations to come.

‘Tragic defeat for everyone’

Like a thief in the night, [Britain] will leave the European Union late on Friday,” says the Belgian paper De Morgen. “The way the EU is losing a member state for the first time in its history is a tragic defeat for everyone.”

Brexit is, inescapably a terrible loss,” says the Irish Times. “The EU will be weaker… and Ireland has lost a valuable ally at the EU table.”

It is “a defeat for EU and the European idea, a defeat for anyone who has primarily liked to think of the EU as a peace project,” says Norway’s Aftenposten.

It is a relief, it is a loss, it is a failure,” agrees another Belgian daily Le Soir. The paper calls the moment a “historic turning point”, with the EU now “dwindling, shrinking, shrivelling”.