EU ambassador admits Brussels in final stage of Brexit grief – ‘We must accept it’

Brexit: Scotland and Wales backed to rejoin EU by MEP

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EU ambassador to the UK João Vale de Almeida said Brussels was only now starting to come to terms with the results of the 2016 EU referendum. Mr Vale de Almeida, who was appointed the EU’s top diplomat in London in February 2020, said the reaction since the vote had involved “different degrees of grief”.

Addressing journalists at a briefing event last night, he added: “As you know in the different degrees of grief, the last one is acceptance.

“At certain points in time after traumatic situations, one needs to finally accept the new situation.

“I think that is part of the process in which we are.

“We are still in the process of accepting that the UK is no longer a member of the European Union.”

He said Brexit has had an impact on “both sides of the Channel”.

But he made clear: “We need to accept the new reality, we need to accept that decisions have consequences, consequences require adjustment and adaptation.”

His comments come as the European Parliament today votes to ratify the EU trade deal with Britain later today, turning the page on a difficult Brexit chapter.

The 705-member Brussels chamber is expected to overwhelmingly back the bare-bones trade deal that was sealed last Christmas Eve after nine months of bad-tempered negotiation.

The zero-tariffs, zero-quotas arrangement has been provisionally applied since January 1 when an eleven-month post-Brexit transition period ended.

Relations between the UK and EU have been strained over the application of the Northern Ireland Protocol, which governs the post-Brexit arrangements aimed at preventing a hard border with Ireland and was part of the divorce deal signed in January 2020.

Much of the disruption and controversy created by the protocol relates to the fact Great Britain has left the Single Market for goods, while Northern Ireland remains in the EU regulatory zone.

That necessitates a significant number of documentary checks and physical inspections on agri-food goods arriving into Northern Ireland from Great Britain.

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Mr Vale de Almeida said the issues surrounding Northern Ireland were one of a “few irritants, a few misunderstandings still on the table” along with the vaccination supply programme.

However, UK officials told the ambassador’s comments were “laughable.”

One Whitehall source told this publication: “This is laughable from the EU, they still can’t accept the UK left.

“Britain is thriving globally since we left the Bloc in many different areas ranging from trade to vaccine development.

“A Global post-Brexit Britain is what we aim to achieve and Brussels needs to get its mindset in order.”

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