UK keeps its Brexit plan secret or there is no strategy at all whatsoever?

President Tusk meets Prime Minister Theresa May (UK) From left to right: Mr Donald TUSK, President of the European Council; Ms Theresa MAY, UK Prime Minister. Location: London - UNITED KINGDOM  Date: 08/09/2016  Copyright: European Union

President Tusk meets Prime Minister Theresa May (UK)
From left to right: Mr Donald TUSK, President of the European Council; Ms Theresa MAY, UK Prime Minister. Location: London – UNITED KINGDOM . Date: 08/09/2016. © European Union, 2016 / Source: EC – Audiovisual Service

The 27 EU leaders will convene on Friday to discuss about Brexit while Theresa May and the British government are still trying to prepare a plan to get the most out of UK’s exit from the EU. The British Prime Minister has made it clear in the parliament that the agreement will include control of the movement of people from the EU and a profitable trade deal.

However, Theresa May’s statements remain too vague to understand if there is a specific Brexit plan at all in the first place. As it seems, the British government has probably not yet created a strong strategy that could ensure beneficial EU treatment. Otherwise Theresa May would have already invoked the Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty and Brexit talks would have started.

EU unable to convince

The EU leaders and officials have been desperately urging Britain to start Brexit talks as soon as possible in order to reduce economic and political uncertainty within the bloc and to the rest of the world. But Theresa May stands still to her position on this matter and states that the negotiations will start no sooner than early 2017.

Particularly, the spokeswoman of the British Premier said last Thursday: “We want to take the time prepare for the negotiations by talking to stakeholders up and down the country—the EU also needs to take time to prepare for the negotiations in terms of what approach the 27 (member states) will take”.

On behalf of the European Parliament (EP), Guy Verhofstadt who was appointed EP’s chief negotiator last Thursday told that negotiations must be finalised by 2019 and the EP should agree on the exit deal with Britain.

UK needs more than a summer holiday

David Davis, the Secretary of State for Exiting the EU, mentioned to the House of Lords select committee that the initial Brexit strategy will not be revealed before the formal notification of the EU which is triggered by article 50. Furthermore, David Davis made it clear that the process will be more open afterwards but one of the most complicated ones.

Does the Brexit Secretary not want to unveil UK’s plan on the negotiations with the EU or there is no strategic plan at all but only scattered proposals? Why the procedure will be “more open” after triggering article 50? It seems that the summer was probably counterproductive as Theresa May and the British government need more time to form some basic guidelines to be able to negotiate effectively with the EU.

However, it is true that the UK and the EU are sailing in uncharted waters as this procedure has never been into place before. The strategies that both parties have already formed or intend to do so are about to be reviewed and modified several times during the negotiating procedure. The main point though lies on the stance that each side is going to hold. Is the EU going to remain firm on its bold statements regarding the single market access connection with the freedom of movement in the EU or UK will be form again an exception?

UK’s Erasmus Plus programme at serious risk

Brexit is likely to put an end to UK’s participation to the EU student exchange scheme called Erasmus Plus. The programme allows students to study in 33 European countries for free for up to one year with EU covering the travel and living expenses. The students who have been trained or studied abroad have greater chances of finding employment quicker compared to the ones who haven’t, according to the European Commission’s Erasmus impact study in 2014. Hence, Brexit will certainly affect employment rates negatively as it will isolate UK students to a considerable extent.

David Davis was pressured to protect the scheme and continue providing this opportunity to UK students but the Brexit secretary could not guarantee that will be able to safeguard it in the post-Brexit era. The latter shows that UK should not only worry about the movement of people and single market access but education is also a critical part of Brexit talks.

Uncertainty to go away after formal negotiations

Time is neither on the EU’s or the UK’s side. The uncertainty that lies on the Old Continent is affecting businesses and slows down growth and consumer spending, once more. More precisely, the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) expects UK to grow 1.8% this year, down from its March estimate of 2.2%, and by 1% in 2017 compared with its original forecast of 2.3%.

All in all, there is not much time for Theresa May and the UK government to prepare a proper plan and start Brexit talks with the EU, which could reduce uncertainty and provide a better environment for businesses and consumers.

It is quite certain now that neither the EU nor the UK will ever be completely ready before negotiations for Britain’s exit are officially launched.

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