Francois Hollande amongst others have recently been saying that the “UK must pay price for Brexit”. Similar things were said before the Brexit vote and they puzzled me then and continue to puzzle me now. Mr Hollande has reportedly said that:
“There must be a threat, there must be a risk, there must be a price”
and also that:
“other countries or other parties will be minded to leave the European Union in order to have the supposed benefits and no downsides or rules”
Now if being part of the EU is an awesome deal then just leaving the EU, no matter what terms you negotiate could surely never be as good as being in the EU. On the other hand if a country can negotiate a better deal for itself by being out of the EU but with appropriate terms, and this is possible for a multitude of countries – then surely this tells us that the EU is not actually the optimal solution. If the majority of the people of Europe would be better off if their countries left the EU and negotiated different terms, then surely the EU needs to reform itself along the lines of whatever those terms might be to best serve the peoples of Europe. Surely after all the countries that would be better off on different terms have left, the remaining members of the EU will be in an even better position as they’ll be able to more easily optimize the terms of the EU for the good of their people.
Now if the above isn’t the case, and that the EU actually depends upon there being net winners and net losers, then it’s surely beholden on the governments of every country that is a net loser to leave the EU for the betterment of their own people. Which rather leads me to the conclusion that as the great and good of the EU are talking about making sure that the UK “pays the price” for leaving the EU that price the UK would be better off. This in turn suggests that the UK is in fact worse off by being in the EU.
There might be another explanation, but it seems to me that the only logical conclusion to be drawn from the EU needing to punish the UK for leaving to discourage others from leaving is that both the UK and other countries would be better off out and that it’s the EU that would suffer from a free association of trading countries.