Brexit: Views from Wells' twin towns

November 29 2017
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Here, five citizens of Wells’ twin towns each provide a personal view on the UK’s departure from the EU. These are abridged versions of articles supplied in English to Wells Twinning Association

BAD DURKHEIM, GERMANY
Ulrich Baer

WE had to acknowledge with great sorrow and disappointment the Brexit result. A Europe without Great Britain is not what it was, the one we fought for which guaranteed peace for such a long time. We were too sure, all of us, that times could not be turned backwards. Did we not enjoy all the benefits of our friendship and partnership, free trade, and free travelling in a united Europe?

Have we not recognised the signs of our time, realising that the citizens understood Europe as a creator of more or less ridiculous regulations? Has Brussels failed to elucidate the benefits of the EU to us? What has Brussels done to show us, the Europeans, clear perspectives and visions of true community with common interests?

We as non-politicians can only fight for the partnerships and friendships, which have grown after the war, and ensure that they do not perish. We must cultivate and nourish our partnership in spite of the bitter blow named Brexit. Great Britain may leave the EU but she cannot leave Europe, not geographically and not from our hearts.

• Ulrich Baer is a committee member of Bad Durkheim Twinning Association

PARAY LE MONIAL, FRANCE
Françoise Lecoeur

WE cannot be delighted at Great Britain leaving the EU. Europe without the world’s fifth most powerful country won’t be Europe any more.

Great Britain could lose quite a lot, in terms of money, jobs and trade, but Europe could also lose quite a lot. And what will happen to European citizens living in the United Kingdom and to the British who have set up home in other parts of Europe?

After the Second World War, people thought that building one big country, with rules in common, could avoid wars between countries and thus the European Union was born. That was a Great Idea, but maybe the way that Europe is run politically is not good, because inside Europe we can find countries with different economic levels and different cultures. Why not federate several countries inside Europe and let them decide their own laws as happens in the United States?

We really have a good time when we are all together and we hope that, despite these recent events, the links between our two twin towns will strengthen. We really need it.

• Françoise Lecoeur is a member of Paray Le Monial Twinning Committee

FONTANELLATO, ITALY
Marco Battati

POLITICAL deals have usually been made to facilitate relationships between nations. They are made very often to help economic development, but they do not always work. Great Britain, for example, called a referendum on its exit from the EU. The unexpected result caused the fall of the British Pound to its lowest level, if we compare it to the dollar, in 30 years. Moreover, the political situation has changed too.

The Italian people are very sad about this decision, because they consider Great Britain as one of the best places where they can go to study English and where they can attend prestigious universities. In addition, the UK has got a huge historical and cultural heritage, so helpful for interested people, because they can study history through concrete evidence.

Fontanellato’s people are not worried about Brexit. They hope to strengthen the relationship with Wells’ people anyway.

• Marco Battati is president of Fantanellato Twinning Association

BAD BERKA, GERMANY
Sebastian Lutterberg

IN Germany there are many opinions about this topic. I think the EU can exist without the UK, but for the UK and the British public it will be a hard time. Many big companies operate from the UK in the whole EU.

Some of them will leave after Brexit. This means many people will become jobless and the government lose a lot of taxes. The UK gets much money from the EU in subsidies, of course the UK also pays into the EU, but I think the benefit for the UK is much higher.

And don’t forget, the UK has been given many exceptions over the past years, eg. they kept the Pound. Now they speak about a free trade agreement. It seems the UK wants to enjoy all the benefits of the EU but does not want to pay for it. In such a community every partner should have the same liabilities and also the same rights. This is the only way to success.

• Sebastian Lutterberg is president of Bad Berka Twinning Association

KLUCZBORK, POLAND
Grzegorz Blazewski

BREXIT is the end of the Europe we know and the beginning of a new Europe that has not yet been born. We have no idea what the UK’s commercial and economic relations with Europe will look like, and what rights Britain’s citizens living in EU countries and EU citizens living in the UK – including several hundred thousand Poles – will retain.

The British people will have to bear the cost of breaking up when leaving the EU structures. But money is not at all the most important, because what and how Brexit ends will determine whether other countries will follow the example of Great Britain.

Divorces are never easy and enjoyable, so many nervous turns of action, political dramas and slamming doors are to be expected. In March 2019 everything will be over, but nothing is forever. Sometimes after years, even the conflicting partners come back to each other to try their luck after divorce. It is therefore not in the interests of Poland and Europe to burn bridges between the European Union and Great Britain.

• Grzegorz Blazewski is head of promotion for Kluczborg Commune

• Picture, top: More than 100 people attended a buffet lunch at Wells Town Hall on November 19, hosted by the Mayor and Mayoress of Wells John and Gail North and Wells Twinning Association, as the culmination of a weekend visit to Wells by members of Bad Durkheim Twinning Association. Pictured from left are Gail and John, Burgermeister of Bad Durkheim Cristoph Glogger and his wife Vera, and Wells Twinning Association chairman Richard Hibberd and secretary Dawn Payne