Brexit: UK’s Unfortunate Deal

On November 25, 2018, an emergency EU summit on the draft Brexit agreement was held in Brussels. As a result, the treaty was approved and now has to be ratified by the British Parliament and the European Parliament. Lyudmila Babynina, Head of the Centre for Political Integration Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Europe, spoke about the most important articles of the treaty, prospects for the UK trade policy (despite the fact that it will remain in the Customs Union), and the likelihood of the treaty ratification by both sides.

The agreement shows that the EU achieved everything it wanted. All the demands put forward by Brussels were fulfilled, including all provisions on the rights of citizens that were agreed upon a year ago. By the way, these provisions are not exactly mirrored, because the British citizens living in the EU will not have the freedom of movement throughout the Union, although they can live in the country they work.

The European Union – at least until 2020 – has ensured that there won’t be a rigid border between Ireland and Northern Ireland, which was the main negotiating problem for both parties. Moreover, during the transition period the UK remains in the Customs Union with the EU and accepts a significant part of the EU rules and standards – not only in terms of production, but also in terms of social, environmental and some other standards. This is due to the fact that the EU is afraid of unfair competition from the UK, so keeping it in the Customs Union will force it to comply with a part of the EU standards. Their implementation will be monitored by the EU and will be indirectly within the jurisdiction of its court. During that period, the UK also loses the right to participate in decision-making, being obliged to follow all the rules and regulations of the European Union. In addition, London will continue to contribute in the EU budget.

UK Prepares Its Post-Brexit Foreign Policy
Mary Dejevsky
Anyone seeking further evidence that Brexit is for real and the UK’s decision to leave the European Union will not be reversed need look no further than the Foreign Office in London. The appointment of Jeremy Hunt as foreign secretary after the resignation of Boris Johnson in July has been accompanied by a change in outlook that treats Brexit as though it has already happened and the UK’s European chapter as retreating into the past.
Expert Opinions

It turns out that due to this agreement, the EU will be able to fulfil all the tasks it needs. For Britain, it is not a fortunate outcome, because as part of the EU Customs Union, it cannot pursue an independent foreign trade policy. Everything would be OK, if it were not for the Irish border issue, but since it cannot be solved in a different way, the UK membership in the Customs Union will last for years to come. It turns out that the UK will limit the freedom of movement not only for people, but also for capital and services. Accordingly, London also loses the advantage it enjoyed as a EU member state. Therefore, the “Global Britain” slogan is losing its relevance.

We can assert that for Britain there could be no successful deal at all, since those who voted for Brexit actually wanted to break off all relations with the EU. The Brexiters’ requirements related to trade policy, renunciation of the EU court jurisdiction, European legislation, freedom of movement will not be fully fulfilled anyway, primarily due to the Irish border problem. In reality, there are two options – either exiting without a deal, or exiting with the current one.

As for the agreement approval by the British Parliament, the likelihood that it will not be approved is higher than that it will be accepted. Another question is that its disapproval will lead the UK to a serious domestic political crisis. There will be no change in approaches on the part of the EU, no matter whether the British Parliament wants to reformulate this agreement or to achieve a new one. Therefore, no-ratification would be rather unwise. However, the balance of power in the British Parliament shows that it is more than likely.

Moreover, the deal must be approved by the European Parliament, but there are no problems with that. Previously, all member states approved the Brexit agreement with the vote lasting just thirty minutes. Spain’s claims regarding Gibraltar certainly exist, but the EU will always be on its side during bilateral negotiations. I believe that Spain’s threat to block the deal is an attempt to highlight the Gibraltar issue. The European Parliament is likely to vote for the deal, because they are focused on their citizens’ rights, which were fully observed.

Views expressed are of individual Members and Contributors, rather than the Club's, unless explicitly stated otherwise.