Josep Borrell: "Without the false narrative against Europe, the Brexit would not exist"

Spanish diplomat confident of agreement on Brexit
The Vice-President of the European Commission in charge of the High Representative of the Union for the Common Foreign and Security Policy, Josep Borrell

PHOTO/EUROPEAN UNION/ERIC VIDAL  -   The Vice-President of the European Commission in charge of the High Representative of the Union for the Common Foreign and Security Policy, Josep Borrell

Josep Borrell, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, is optimistic about the options for an exit agreement for the United Kingdom in the coming hours. According to his 34 years of experience in European affairs, agreements are always reached at the last minute and the price of an exit without agreement is too high to afford. 

In an interview given to the Efe Agency and conducted via videoconference, Josep Borrell (Lleida, 73) looks back and believes that without the hoaxes generated in London against the EU, Brexit would not exist. However, he adds that the British never wanted a political Europe and got off the train when they saw it heading towards a station they did not want to reach. 

In the absence of an agreement on fisheries and how to resolve trade disputes, the head of European diplomacy believes that the final deal may be close. "The problems of an exit without agreement are so great that I believe the need for the pact will prevail. We will see this in the next few hours," he said from his office in Brussels, with a large map of Europe in the background.

Borrell recalls that the official propaganda of the Brexit supporters claimed that with the money given to the EU a hospital could be built every week. "The day after that false narrative they were already saying that it was a miscalculation," explains Borrell, who draws a clear parallel with the Catalan independence movement. The United Kingdom was complaining that it was contributing too much money. Catalonian independence fighters complained that Spain was stealing from them. "An effort must be made to counteract disinformation and we can now get a grip on ourselves because we live in a world governed by the battle of narratives," Borrell warns. 

Josep Borrell
PHOTO/EUROPEAN UNION/PHILLIPE BUISSIN - Josep Borrell
A common strategic culture

In this world of narratives, Josep Borrell repeatedly expresses his commitment to establishing a European "common strategic culture", a complicated objective in a field, that of foreign policy, which requires unanimity. He considers that the EU has the necessary resources to act as a major power but admits the enormous difficulties of reaching agreements in a year, his first at the head of European diplomacy, which is particularly complicated by the pandemic.

"Almost every day, I see problems that seem impossible to solve and most of them prove to be so," he jokes. " This job causes insomnia and it has proven to be more complicated than I expected. We lack a common strategic culture which, translated into the vulgar language, means that we do not understand the world in the same way. Agreeing on 27, all at once, sometimes leads to empty content," he laments. 

For Josep Borrell, it was a particularly difficult moment when the United States announced its draft for a Middle East peace plan. He considers relations with Turkey and the worsening of security and the fight against terrorism in the Sahel to be a serious problem. 

On the positive side of the balance, he places the military operation IRINI to control arms trafficking in the Mediterranean and the regulatory framework for imposing sanctions for human rights violations. 

The recovery plan for Europe, known as Next Generation EU, and the handover at the White House will help to build the new European Union on which Borrell is embarking. A Europe that, in his opinion, needs to regain ground in certain technological areas. 

He considers himself an "emerging European defence minister" and has faith in EU strength. "Historically, pandemics are great generators of structural change", he states.