These are the words of U.K.'s Brexit Secretary David Davis. He accuses the EU of having the intention to make as much money as it can from the U.K.'s process of leaving the EU. Clearly, there remain major differences between the stances of the U.K. and the EU in the wake of the third round of Brexit negotiations.
A so-called "divorce bill" is being requested by the EU, and it is likely that Britain will continue to pay some money into the EU budget for some time after Brexit. Brussels is even asking the U.K. to pay for the negotiation process itself, including the salaries of the Eurocrats who work on Brexit.
The biggest arguments in divorce cases are almost always about money, and Brexit is apparently no exception. Many divorces end with one side paying compensation to the other, especially when there are children to be looked after.
The compensation that the EU is asking for is a large sum, indeed. The press is talking about something between 60 to 100 billion euros. The problem is, the British people's main motivation in leaving the EU was to get rid of their financial obligations to Brussels, as they believed they were giving a lot without receiving enough in return, both in economic and political terms. Britons were persuaded that their tax money was being wasted by the EU's relatively poor countries, or for refugees, while the entire EU system was mainly serving Germany's economic interests.
It is comprehensible why the British people do not understand much of what is going on right now. They decided to leave in order to pay less; but now they are being told they have to pay for many years to come, and all because they are leaving.
The European integration project was one of sharing fairly the burden and the benefits, along with establishing lasting peace in the European continent. Perhaps the decision to enlarge the EU toward Eastern Europe was a hasty decision, with a high political and economic price. Besides, the EU had tried to become "independent" from both the United States and Russia, yet international circumstances changed drastically before that happened. That is why the EU now resembles a cooperate initiative unable to decide which path to take. In the meantime, the world continues to change, state-centrism is becoming once again the main trend in international politics, while classical realism is on the rise with all this talk about nationalism, security, defense and conventional armies.
As of today, one looks only at Germany when thinking about the EU, and sometimes at France. In this context, the U.K. asked, "why am I still a part of this mechanism" and left.
The U.K. is no ordinary country. It is historically the cradle of most theoretical approaches and debates on international economy and politics. If the U.K. doubted the future of the EU so much so that it decided to leave, then EU leaders should ask themselves some questions about the EU's future. It appears, nonetheless, that the EU is focused on punishing the U.K., instead of asking what went wrong.
For now, the negotiations on Brexit do not seem to be advancing much, as the EU exerts pressure on the U.K. to agree to a divorce bill. The EU's chief negotiator admitted there had been no decisive progress until now on key issues. The point is, with or without a deal, Brexit will happen, so if the EU keeps insisting on imposing its demands, then the U.K. may leave without any sort of agreement. It may then choose to pay nothing, make life difficult within all European agencies, or even develop ties with Northern Cyprus, who knows?
It is sad what the EU has become. It has turned into a club which is asking way too much from both those who want to leave or and those who want to enter, without noticing, probably, that the EU is no longer as attractive as it used to be for anyone.