The EU tells the bare truth to the UK that there is no such thing as easy divorces

theresa-may-daniel-tusk-2016-downing-street

President TUSK – tour of EU capitals ahead of the Bratislava Summit. President Tusk meets British Prime Minister Theresa May. From left to right: Ms Theresa MAY, UK Prime Minister; Mr Donald TUSK, President of the European Council. Shoot location: London – UNITED KINGDOM. Shoot date: 08/09/2016. Copyright: European Union

Post Brexit vote, the British leaders have rather been adamant in saying that there will be no mixed solutions and in-betweens ahead: “Brexit” will mean nothing else than “Brexit”. Last week, Malta’s Prime Minister Joseph Muscat told the world that EU leaders are determined not only to follow that line, but also that the ride could be bumpier than Britain expects. While on a radio interview with the BBC on Friday, Mr. Muscat indeed warned the UK that the EU is “not bluffing” and might have opened the pandora box for extremely tough negotiations.

The background

The UK has decided to leave the European Union in a referendum on June 23, with a very narrow majority backing the “Leave” vote. Since then, there has been wide speculation on how and when the British government would be able to trigger the Article 50 of the Treaty of the European Union to then officially launch the exit negotiations with the EU.

Article 50 indeed is the one that allows a Member State to withdraw from the Union “in accordance with its own constitutional requirements”, with a notification to the European Council of its intention, which obliges the EU to negotiate a “withdrawal agreement” with that state. The British Prime Minister Theresa May has repeatedly said that she will trigger Article 50 of the EU treaty before the end of March next year, to then initiate the two-year negotiation process to leave the 28-nation bloc.

“Complicated” negotiations

In his BBC interview last Friday, the Maltese Premier Joseph Muscat said that Britain will hardly be in a position to trigger Article 50 by the deadline that May commits to, and that all negotiations around the Article would necessarily be “complicated”. Mr. Muscat, whose country takes over the EU’s rotating presidency in January, told the BBC he would “not be surprised” if the legal proceedings around the possibilities of Article 50 being invoked resulted in a delayed and “complicated” process.

Three-tier approach

The 27 remaining members of the EU are indeed likely to take a three-tier approach to drive talks with Britain, as revealed by Sky News on Friday. The UK will firstly have to agree on how much money it will pay for London to leave the bloc, and will then have to settle its EU border arrangements, with a special mention to the question of the border between the UK and the Republic of Ireland.

“Only after those two areas have been resolved, that third negotiation will start – which is what type of new relationship will there be between the UK and the European Union”, Mr. Muscat said. Maltese PM also underlined the message that Britain could not expect to limit freedom of movement and retain some form of single market membership.

No soft divorce

Mr Muscat wanted to be openly dismissive of any possibility that a kind of “soft divorce” with Britain could be put in place, with better conditions for the almost ex-EU member than it currently has. “We are all going to lose something but there will not be a situation where the UK has a better deal than it has now. It’s simply not going to happen”, he clearly said. “There is absolutely no bluffing from the EU side […] saying ‘we will start in this position and then we will soften up’. No, this is really and truly our position and it will not change”, he added, as quoted by the Guardian.

May’s government

These are definitely not great news for Theresa May’s government, whose key representatives like Boris Johnson and UK’s Brexit Secretary David Davis have met with EU parliamentarians last week to discuss the terms of the Brexit. Mr. Muscat’s comments came only days after Davis described his meeting with the European Parliament’s chief negotiator Guy Verhofstadt as a “good start”.

But despite all those grey clouds looming over Downing Street, the spokesperson of May’s cabinet told reporters that the Prime Minister remained “confident” of being able to trigger article 50 as planned, and that negotiations were being approached in the “spirit of goodwill”. “The aim of that negotiation is to get the best possible deal for Britain, for British companies to access and work with and within the single market and for European businesses to have the same access here”, the Downing Street spokesman underlined. “This is a negotiation that will take place next year and the government will set out its negotiating strategy in the fullness of time,” he added.

Bumpy road ahead

The moment is by all means critical for Theresa May’s government. There’s no doubt that it will take too long for any kind of negotiation, but respecting the deadline her government has set could not be the only problem. Forging new trade relations with the EU will be very difficult, to begin with. The EU-Canada trade deal (CETA) took over seven years to complete, and there are reports that show that a UK-EU deal could take no less than five years to see the light.

Germany is apparently pushing for a comprehensive EU trade deal with Britain to minimise own economy fallout, but it will very hardly simplify things for Britain to a level where protocols are breached. The bailout could also be expensive. The Economist reports that in Brussels there are talks of an exit bill for Britain as big as €60bn.

Legal uncertainty

There’s also serious uncertainty around possible legal “battles” over whether the UK stays inside the single market after it has left the EU that is currently dominating the UK’s top news media. As published by the BBC only yesterday, lawyers see huge uncertainty over the UK’s European Economic Area (EEA) membership, which is something that could stop ministers from taking Britain out of the single market.

Indeed the legal investigation that will likely become a significant topic in the UK will be around the fact that June’s referendum asked British voters a question over whether the UK should leave the EU, but did not touch any kind of future economic access at all. Big challenges on whether the UK could (or should) remain in the EEA will surely follow, which is something that will make the conversation with the EU even more complex and lengthy.

Now both sides, the EU and the UK, are taking up hard-line positions as the time for real negotiations to start is coming closer, and it’s more than ever clear the conversation will be tough. Maltese PM Muscat, who is due to become a very influential figure during the next presidency of the EU, next year, suggested that even when a final or interim deal is cut between EU leaders and Britain, the European Parliament may decide to veto it in 2019, “at the very end of the process”.

This would be an ice-cold shower that the UK can’t definitely afford to take, although May’s government should start thinking that there will be no space for a “soft Brexit”, as much as it’s true that there is no such thing as easy divorces.

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Featured Stings

The EU Commission predicts a decimated growth in the next years

Deutsche Bank: the next financial crisis is here and the lenders need €150 billion from taxpayers

Catalonia’s vote for independence and the power of symbols

G20 LIVE: World Leaders in Turkey for G20 Summit. Global Economy will be discussed in Antalya

Brexit: when the hubris of one man can set the UK, the EU and the entire world on fire

Yes, together we can make a change! YO!Fest and EYE 2016

daniela-runchi-jade-president__

A Sting Exclusive: “Education in Europe, fostering skills development inside and outside the school system”

EU to lead one more fight against climate change at G7 summit

China invites the EU to a joint endeavor for free trade and order in the world

Landmark EU Parliament – ECB agreement on bank supervision

EU Council: The US airlines may freely pollute the European air

Hostages to a rampant banking system

Eurozone in trouble after Nicosia’s ‘no’

Fighting for minds of youth in Latvia

The Monetary Union drives Europe into dangerous paths, CoR demands an EMU of regional content

COP21 Breaking News_04 December: Launch of CREWS, climate risk & early warning systems

One more country to test the EU project: Kaczynski’s Poland

MWC 2016 LIVE: Intel focuses on 5G “beyond the Powerpoint”

Greece @ MWC14: Greek-born mobile champions at MWC 2014

Do the EU policies on agro-food smell?

EU Commission: Once in every 20 beef meals you eat…horse probably with drugs in it

G20 World Exclusive Interview: “The world, especially emerging economies and developing countries, require a more sustainable and quality development”, the Spokesperson of Japan underscores live from Antalya Turkey

EU’s social crisis and unemployment to deteriorate

Did Draghi ask the Germans to accept a drastic change of austerity policies?

The Eurogroup protects Germany and blames others

The British “nonsense”, the relaxed Commissioner and the TTIP “chiaroscuro” at this week’s Council

On Google antitrust case: “Let’s face it, some companies want to hurt Google and it goes as simple as that”

Appreciation of euro to continue

Teamgum @ TheNextWeb 2014

No end to Deutsche Bank’s problems: new litigations in the US and frailty in EU stress test

Commission Vice-President Rehn exaggerates Eurozone’s growth prospects

A Sting Exclusive: “Doing ourselves a favour”, Vice President Dombrovskis underscores that this time growth has to come from within the EU

Volkswagen getting away with it in Europe

EU: Divided they stand on immigration and Trump hurricanes

Is the European Banking Union an impossible task?

The ECB proposes a swift solution for SMEs’ financing

WEF Davos 2016 LIVE: “Chinese economy has great potential, resilience and ample space for policy adjustment”, China’s Vice President Li Yuanchao reassures from Davos

Marco Polo’s Dream

No agreement in sight on EU budget

ECB readies itself for extraordinary monetary measures defying Germany

A Sting Exclusive: “One year on from the VW scandal and EU consumers are still in the dark”, BEUC’s Head highlights from Brussels

Do you dare to go to China?

The West definitively cuts Russia off from the developed world

What happens when the Eurogroup decides to help Greece


Re-thinking citizenship education: bringing young people back to the ballot box

At last a good price for the Greek debt!

Who is responsible for public health? The tendencies and its benefits –or not– on Health Education around the world

Community Manager – 1289

MWC 2016 LIVE: BT chief aims to be at UK 5G forefront

Can We(esterners) ever understand (the) Chinese

Has Germany rebuffed ECB on the banking union?

Parliament votes reform for better European Co2 market but critics want it sooner than later

Royal Navy to unveil future surveillance and reconnaissance requirements next February in Rome

€5 billion of EU energy efficiency project money spent on “comfort”

An ECB banker wants to change the European social model

Tax evasion and fraud threaten the European project

Five years down the drain

ECB: Growth measures even before the German elections

Unemployment and immigrants haunt the EU; who can offer relief?

WEF Davos 2016 LIVE: “CO2 is not the problem, it is the symptom”, the pilots who crossed the world using solar energy cry out from Davos

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s