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UK-EU Relations Set to Recover Gradually After Brexit

Relations between the European Union and the United Kingdom will take a while to recover, and would at first be an informal number of initiatives, Valdai Club experts believe. Theresa May gave a speech in Florence on Friday, outlining the UK’s goal of a “special relationship” with the European Union.

Cooperation between the European Union and the United Kingdom in the immediate aftermath of Brexit in 2019 is likely to be focused on smaller issues, Susi Dennison, Director of the European Power programme at the European Council on Foreign Relations, told in a phone interview.

“[These could include] an agreement in the field of cyber, an agreement in the field of intelligence sharing and counter-terrorism. These kinds of smaller initiatives that will develop a working level and be formalized later, maybe as part of a wider partnership,” she said.

Dennison added that trade and security are the core areas of interest for the UK and EU going forward, and that it may lead to signing new treaties.

According to Yelena Ananyeva, Head of the Center for British Studies at the Institute of Europe of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Theresa May’s speech signified that the UK would be pursuing a “hard Brexit,” but would seek a security agreement with the EU. Ananyeva noted that there is still a dispute over how much the UK would pay for the Brexit as part of Multiannual Financial Framework 2014-2020.

“The European Union named a sum of around 100 billion euros. Britain has agreed to 20 billion and says that it will fulfill earlier obligation. This means the multi-year 2014-2020 plan adopted in 2013, under which, Britain will honor its obligations,” Ananyeva told

Both experts agree that Brexit is unlikely to lead to a breakup of the United Kingdom. According to Ananyeva, after the Scottish National Party lost almost half of the seats in the parliament in June 2017, a second referendum on the status of Scotland in the short term - until the end of Brexit talks - is unlikely to take place.

“What we are seeing in Scotland is the same as we see in the rest of UK in the sense that though it may not be in favour of the Brexit vote at the time,” Dennison said. “The further down the path that we move, the more there is an acceptance that the leave happened. This is because there is a political consensus in favour of that, which, in fact, said so in the vote, and to go against that vote would have more damaging consequences in terms of disunity in the country and therefore we need to try to make the most of it.”
Views expressed are of individual Members and Contributors, rather than the Club's, unless explicitly stated otherwise.