Pekko Haavisto, speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, said other countries have seen the issues faced by the UK and it has galvanised support for the EU
“What Brexit actually triggered was a lot of support of European Union members,” Haavisto said. “They see how difficult it is to leave and how many agreements they have to make if they leave the EU so maybe it’s better to stay.”
It had long been feared that the UK’s departure from the European Union might pave the way for other members to follow suit, however, Haavisto instead insists that the EU has a way of surviving these perceived crises.
“I think Europe is very good at surviving,” Haavisto said. “We have already many times been thinking this is the end but then something has happened and we have been more successful.”
In a wide-ranging discussion with Euronews, Haavisto was joined by the Chairwoman for the Italian energy company ENI, Emma Marcegaglia, the President of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, William Burns, and Miroslav Lajcak, Slovakia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs.
Lajcak acknowledges it’s been a tough five years for the EU.
“One reason is that somehow we (the EU) have always had to respond to things that we were not prepared for,” Lajcak said. “The migration wave in 2015, Brexit in 2016 and the arrival of President Trump and his new style of politics in 2017. These were huge changes and Europe was struggling to find a proper response.”
Lajcak does think that the new commission has brought a new way of thinking and believes Europe needs to be more assertive.
In order for the EU to thrive Haavisto believes it must get on better terms with the USA. As President Trump threatens to impose huge tariffs on automobiles unless a deal can be struck, Haavisto acknowledges this is a new situation.
“We somehow have to convince the US why cooperation with Europe is important and why we need each other.”