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The Real Threats to the EU

The European Union must address a slew of challenges – from immigration to eurozone reform – that risk causing systemic problems lethal to the bloc. Given this, sensible leaders can be forgiven for politely sending the UK on its way, and focusing their attention on threats to the EU’s long-term cohesion and fundamental values.

LONDON – In the United Kingdom, Brexit looms large, with everyone from government ministers to tabloid newspapers frothing daily about the deal that will be struck with the European Union and the effects that it will have. But the EU faces too many pressing challenges to be obsessing about Britain.

The UK’s concern is understandable: evidence is mounting of the likely damage a departure from the single market and customs union will do to the UK economy. According to new research from the Centre for European Reform, the UK economy is already 2.1% smaller than it would have been had voters chosen to remain. The hit to public finances totals £440 million ($579 million) per week.

The lack of information about how Brexit will play out has businesses worried. The CEO of Siemens UK, Jürgen Maier, recently urged British leaders to clarify how trade with the EU will work, urging them to ensure that the country remains in the customs union. Airbus has warned that a “no deal” outcome would force it to reassess its long-term position in the country, putting thousands of British jobs at risk. BMW has affirmed its commitment to remaining in the UK, but warned that costs could rise.

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