Europes media greeted the bright new post-Brexit dawn of Britains first day as an ex-member of the European Union with some sadness, a healthy dose of scepticism, and a plea to the the bloc to get its act together.
The end, wrote Frances Libration. Britain has left the EU and theres not much else to say. After 47 years at the heart of a unique club of nations, after three years and seven months of drama, plot twists and chaos, it is out, retrenched on its island, alone.
The end was a bit of a damp squib, the paper said. Most people did nothing, seeking a normal Friday evening without too many questions about what comes next. Brexit and its consequences have only just begun. Tomorrow is another day, Brexited.
Le Monde said 31 January was the day nothing changed, and everything changed. The Parliament Square crowd vanished minutes after singing God Save the Queen, with no hanging around in keeping with a strange day when Britain celebrated a truly historic event, but only barely. Can one really celebrate a divorce?
It was as if everyone somehow sensed that the farewell formalities that moment when you find yourself on the pavement, at once relieved and saddened, before everyone heads their separate ways had to be kept as brief as possible.
In Germanys Sddeutsche Zeitung, Stefan Kornelius warned that no country was an island, not even Britain. Sovereignty is a popular term in an era crying out for order and security, he wrote. But it assumes you are the master of your destiny that you can ward off unreasonable demands from the outside world.
This was a nice idea in a world that has created huge dependencies, Kornelius said. The song is of an end to vassalage and humiliation, but Britain has no great ideas for the future so far, all we have seen been a narrow-minded denial of reality and a trivialisation of the problems.
Die Welt warned of the consequences of Brexit-fuelled delusions of grandeur, saying much would depend on whether British politics, after Brexit, can finally be honest about the countrys true size. It quoted the prophetic words of a government scientific adviser, Henry Tizard, in 1949.
We persist in regarding ourselves as a great power, capable of everything and only temporarily handicapped by economic difficulties, Tizard wrote, in a memo instantly filed away. We are not a great power and never will be again. We are a great nation, but if we continue to behave like a great power we shall soon cease to be a great nation.
Spains El Pas said Boris Johnson now faced a challenge of colossal dimensions: to recover the unity of a country divided between those who see Brexit as a liberation, and those who consider it a tragedy and a historical error.
He will also need to finally define Brexit, and in doing so risks, despite his large majority, reigniting another old war: that between free trade fans, who aspire to break completely with the EUs rules, and those who in the coming months will start to see the consequences of Brexit for farmers, fishermen and businesses.
In the Netherlands, Caroline de Gruyter warned that the EU needed to get moving. Until now, Brexit has been good for the EU, she wrote in NRC Handelsblad. Polls, she said, show public appreciation of the EU and the euro at their highest levels ever.
The 27 are united. That earns admiration from citizens. Europeans were shocked to see the UK sink into political chaos, and to hear talk of food and medicine shortages under a no-deal Brexit; they concluded it is better to stay together. You no longer hear populists like Marine Le Pen and Geert Wilders talk about Frexit or Nexit.
But it would be naive to assume things will stay that way, De Gruyter said. Just as the EU benefits from a disastrous Brexit, a successful Brexit can undermine the EU as the former Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi said the EU project must be given a new impetus. Brussels must start moving: ideas, dreams, soul. Its time.
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