Brexit is upon us!
By Ingemar Pongratz
So it begins…
The UK Prime Minister Theresa May has officially triggered the Brexit process after the UK voted last year to leave the European Union. The official start of the of the negotiations were activated by a letter from Theresa May to the President of the European Council Donald Tusk and provides a suggestion how the UK would like to go forwards with the negotiations.
The Letter points out that the UK does not strive to remain the in the European Common market and acknowledges that the European Union connection between free trade and free mobility. Interestingly, the Letter acknowledges that there will consequences for the UK. UK Business and industry will have to follow terms dictated by the European Union but the UK will not be in a position to influence these decisions at all. This is of course a major blow to the ability of the UK to influence European policy. If anything, the chances for the UK to influence its future are reduced.
In my opinion this is a big loss for the UK even before the negotiations have started.
The UK suggests that the negotiation should include discussion regarding a Free Trade Agreement between the UK and the EU. This is of course a priority for both sides but strangely, the letter seems to link a Free Trade agreement with security issues. It also connects free trade with the UK-Irish border and which is even more surprising to the situation in Northern Ireland. Free Trade is of course a tool to promote collaboration among nations, but this is something that works on a long term basis and should not be connected to issues to security collaboration or the UK problem in Norther Ireland. In fact, Northern Ireland is part of the UK and the peace process in Norther Ireland is UK domestic problem. It feels strange that the EU should consider this issue when the UK wants to leave…
The letter suggests that the EU and the UK should also start the negotiations for a Free Trade agreement, that should be included as part of the deal.
Not surprising, there are many reactions to this letter. Most of the reactions in the EU are focused on the connection between free trade and security and argue that the negotiation process will suffer as a consequence of this connection. The media UK is more divided, and ranges between euphoria to concern. Interestingly however, few newspapers comment on the connection of the UK leaving the EU and the problems in Norther Ireland. I find this to be very strange. Also, the media both in the EU and in the EU do not cover the clear statement that the UK will loose its influence over the future of Europe while admitting that the UK will have to follow EU rules even after Brexit.
Taken together, it seems that there are a lot of areas to disagree upon, which will no doubt make the process long and difficult…
Obviously, Brexit is upon us!