“We certainly lose an important market,” said MEP Bernd Lange, the chair of the European Parliament’s international trade committee, of the U.K. “In a way, that means losing leverage.”“There is no plan B ready for changing our trade policy,” he added.On the other side of the Atlantic, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman said that “the importance of trade and investment is indisputable in our relationships with both the European Union and the United Kingdom.”He added, however, that while “the economic and strategic rationale for a transatlantic trade deal remains strong,” the U.S. is “evaluating the impact of the United Kingdom’s decision on TTIP.”“The U.K. has been a force for greater liberalization, and in TTIP, losing that voice in negotiations would be a blow,” former Acting U.S. Trade Representative Miriam Sapiro said.TTIP campaigners in London, where the trade agreement thew fuel onto the euroskeptic fire | Rob Stothard/Getty ImagesNegotiations for the TTIP began three years ago. European Commission estimates say that once ratified it would add €120 billion (or 0.5 percent of GDP) to the EU economy and €95 billion (or 0.4 percent of GDP) to the same measure in the U.S. The next round of TTIP negotiations will be in July. Despite calls from both sides to wrap up talks by the end of the year, the deal has several stubborn sticking points. They include the protection of regional specialty foods, called geographical indications.Zsolt Darvas, a senior fellow at the think tank Bruegel, noted that the EU is still a 450-million-strong market, without the U.K. but “there might be reason to worry about the impact of Brexit on populist movements in France and Italy and the repercussions on the growing German anti-TTIP sentiment.” He predicted the worst-case scenario means that negotiations will be delayed.His confidence stems from the fact that trade is a competence of the European Commission, and commissioners aren’t elected. They are technically free to ignore the rise in anti-trade sentiment and populism that could grow further in Europe following Brexit.Not that TTIP faces unilateral opposition. Hosuk Lee-Makiyama, director of the European Centre for International Political Economy, pointed out that many European capitals want to see trade talks with Washington persist despite the U.K. leaving.“The U.K., partly because of what’s been going on with Brexit … hasn’t had much political capital” anyways, he said. “Sure, they’re very strongly in favor, but [Britain] has played a very little role in how the Council has moved so far.”The Council, the body of the European Union representing the 28 member countries, gives the European Commission guidelines on how to approach the bloc’s trade policy. The U.K.’s decision to leave the EU means the loss of a major political and economic partner with a history of championing free trade at a critical moment for a mammoth agreement being negotiated with the U.S.At the very least, this latest blow to an already strained effort is sure to make the task of reaching an EU-U.S. trade deal that much more difficult.“A midsummer night’s nightmare” was how European Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström labeled the Brexit decision on Twitter. He added that he expects the U.K. to push for getting access to the EU’s single market and trade agreements, like the Canada agreement that it “always wanted.”He also mentioned that Brexit could help unlock some aspects of EU trade policy.“The U.K. has also been blocking in some areas of trade, particularly concerning the reinforcing of trade defense instruments,” Lange said. “There, the EU could actually become stronger in action” without Britain.Victoria Guida and Benjamin Oreskes contributed reporting. Also On POLITICO Jean-Claude Juncker: focus on building a ‘better Europe’ By Maïa de La Baume Czech minister: Jean-Claude Juncker not ‘right man for the job’ By Cynthia Kroet Aide: Jean-Claude Juncker won’t step down over Brexit By Tara Palmeri Some are putting the best face on it they can, saying they will redouble efforts to keep momentum going for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership with the U.S., negotiations with the South American bloc Mercosur, Mexico and Asian countries, and ratifying a trade pact with Canada, a Commission official said.”Brexit makes our trade agenda much more urgent,” said Daniel Caspary, a German Christian Democrat MEP and spokesman of the center-right EPP group in the European Parliament’s Committee on International Trade.“There is no plan B ready for changing our trade policy” — MEP Bernd LangeThe U.K. is typically viewed in Brussels circles as the EU’s liberal force, a counterweight to more state-driven European countries including France and Italy.”Without the U.K., we lose influence on the international economic scene, an influence we are already losing to China and other Asian nations … meaning that we have even less time to do these necessary trade agreements,” Caspary said. “We must now move swiftly ahead.”No plan B for tradeWhen European trade negotiators met with their counterparts from Mercosur on Friday, however, they had to deliver the message that the EU market will be getting a bit smaller. Tim Bennett, director-general of the Transatlantic Business Council, has a similar view.”There’s been historically strong support for TTIP in countries such as Sweden, Denmark, Italy. That will remain,” he said. “The concerns have primarily been in Germany and Austria, and that’s going to be there with or without Brexit.”Changing courseWith U.K. involvement in TTIP potentially off the table, anti-TTIP activists in the U.K. expressed worries over another scenario. They fear an individual free trade agreement negotiated between London and Washington will be “even worse” than one negotiated by the EU.“There’s every reason to believe that the right-wing lurch of Brexit could turn the U.K. into a paradise for free market capitalism: a TTIP on steroids,” said Nick Dearden, the director of Global Justice Now.Swati Dhingra, assistant professor of economics at the London School of Economics, said such fears are not unwarranted. “During a trade negotiation, when a smaller country negotiates with a bigger one, in this case the largest in the world, it often ends up conceding much more than it wants in order to be granted market access.”In Brussels, trade committee chief Lange said the EU must use Brexit to reconsider how trade deals are done. “TTIP and CETA weren’t the main arguments in this campaign, but the fact that trade negotiations are not transparent enough, and their merits not clear enough to the people, do play a role in the rising Euroskepticism all over the continent,” he said.