UNITED STATES (OBSERVATORY NEWS) — Last month, when Boris Johnson and the new European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen met on Downing Street, they immediately agreed with one thing: it was time to end the hostility and slander that was characteristic of the first round of negotiations on Brexit.
The Prime Minister stressed that Britain wants to become a close friend and ally of the EU.
Several weeks passed, and the battles over Brexit revived with their former strength. Both sides are far apart. And many diplomats believe that there remains a high probability of collapse of negotiations.
One Member State is already making plans based on the central assumption that by December, the deadline, no deal will be concluded. For its part, Downing Street No. 10 is gearing up for negotiations to end earlier than expected. And all this attitude is preserved even before the negotiations began.
The UK does not intend to sell its sovereignty as part of a trade agreement with the EU, Senior Minister Michael Gove told parliament Thursday.
“At the end of the transition period, December 31, the United Kingdom will fully restore its economic and political independence. We need the best trade relations with the EU, but when concluding a deal, we do not intend to sell our sovereignty, “he said.
As for No. 10, the whole point of Brexit is that the UK can free itself from EU directives. However, the first thing she should discuss is the so-called “level playing field”. Brussels is adamant: unless the UK provides a long list of commitments regarding its future conduct, negotiations will not continue. No. 10 replies that this is absurdity and that negotiations under such conditions are impossible.
What Boris Johnson wants from the EU is very different from what Teresa May demanded. May was determined to avoid – or at least minimize – friction at the border. She proposed the terms of the deal, in which the UK will remain half in the single market and in the Customs Union. This would be a “book of general rules” governing production and agriculture. This is why Johnson resigned, saying that Britain is “moving toward colony status.”
Johnson does not require hassle-free trading. He would like to conclude a free trade agreement with the EU, albeit with tariffs and quotas as close to zero as possible. He would be pleased with the standard free trade agreement, where the “equal playing field” included a general agreement not to reduce employment in the labor market and environmental standards in order to gain a trade advantage. He notes that the UK already has higher standards than the EU requires in many areas, and that his government intends to raise them even further.
But the EU’s definition of “level playing field” is not all. The negotiating mandate states that EU standards will be the starting point for subsidies for struggling companies, employment and the green agenda. No. 10 protests, stating that the EU did not have such quasi-imperial requests when it agreed to a trade deal with Canada and Japan. The EU responds that these conditions can be considered appropriate, as the economies of Great Britain and the EU are closely intertwined. In other words: the UK is too close a member to give it such freedom.
For Sir David Frost, Boris Johnson’s chief negotiator, this suggests that the EU is still trying to come to terms with Brexit itself. He recently stated that the EU should “have been realistically aware of this, and not just say that geographically the countries of Europe can be independent of each other.” Influential figures from the EU ridicule the very idea that Britain can “gain sovereignty and at the same time maintain equal rights”. According to the EU, size is everything in trade negotiations. For the same reasons, the United Kingdom will suffer from Great Britain when it comes to trade.
The EU’s strategy is to state that if the British sign the deal, the EU will do everything possible to ease friction at the borders. This will be the easiest outcome. But if no agreement is reached, they will carry out the most stringent border procedures.
Many in the government are puzzled that the EU sincerely believes that this will work. First, Boris Johnson does not just head the Brexit government; his main conviction is that the whole point of leaving the EU is to act differently. Each member of the government’s negotiating committee campaigned for an exit from the EU, and believes the UK should be responsible for its own rules and regulations. The more the EU seeks to bind Britain, the more the latter is convinced of the benefits of divergence.
You also need to consider the majority opinion of the Tories in 80 votes. If both sides decide to take eye-for-eye measures, it will hurt consumers and the economy as a whole. But Boris Johnson will not have to run into voters again until 2024. Almost all other European leaders will be re-elected before this time. They will have to pay the price for this economic downturn long before they have to go through it. This is one of the reasons why No. 10 believes that the EU will not fulfill the threat.
The UK and the EU are also arguing about things that have already been theoretically agreed. There are conflicting definitions of the Irish protocol, which should be implemented by the end of the year. The EU and the Irish government have already angrily warned that if they think that Great Britain refuses this agreement, then trade negotiations will fail. But the reshuffle, which resulted in Jeffrey Cox succeeding Attorney General Suell Braverman and Brandon Lewis assuming the post of Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, suggests that the government will take an aggressive approach on this issue.
The end of the year is also annoying. The EU believes that the UK is trying to use this deadline to force it to make concessions, and the French are already rejecting it as a form of “blackmail.” Boris Johnson, on the contrary, believes that the EU is ignoring the fact that he agreed to an attempt to conclude a deal by December 31 in a political declaration. One of his first actions after re-election was to repeat a line from the election campaign stating that the term would not be extended.
The European side is offended by UK immigration proposals that do not give preference to EU citizens. They believe that this makes no sense, but not in the case of the UK, where more Indians live than citizens of any EU country.
There is another way to look at immigration offers. By creating an immigration system that does not distinguish between EU citizens and the rest of the world, the UK has made it clear that if the EU wants preferences for its citizens, then it must offer something in return. The nature of the new system means that EU citizens can be offered preferential treatment as part of a trade transaction without losing control of immigration policies from the UK. For other countries around the world, such as Hong Kong, immigration will remain normal. People can still apply to move to Britain if they want to. People could even contact a bno visa agent hong kong, for example, if they needed support with this application process.
The EU and the UK are already preparing for a series of quick-tempered first meetings. But, paradoxical as it may seem, those who want to make a deal should tune in to a quarrel earlier than might be supposed. Both parties must get rid of this in their systems and understand that the other side is serious about their position before they begin negotiations properly.
Now there is an impression of despair about the prospects of the transaction, even among those who usually take an optimistic point of view. The United Kingdom may make it clear that although it will not follow EU rules, it will maintain its already high standards. The UK exceeds EU requirements for minimum wages, vacation entitlements, maternity leave, and more. In terms of the environment, the promise to achieve a “clean zero” by 2050 was made a few months before the EU said it would do the same. The UK can commit itself not to give up all this – and agree that if this happens, the EU will respond with tariffs and quotas.
But when Tori ministers talk about Brexit opportunities, they talk about the ability to deviate from EU rules. Britain’s desire to become a high-tech center means that when it comes to data protection, it will want to deviate from the cumbersome EU GDPR regime.
No country has yet left the EU. Recently, not a single trade deal has been concluded in order to put up barriers, rather than remove them. Therefore, it is not surprising that negotiations begin with an uncertain and emotional attitude. But real politics concerns both sides. If negotiations fail, there will be serious consequences – and not just for trade. An alliance between the EU and Great Britain makes sense for both sides. It is simply impossible to think that the two parties involved in the economic confrontation will remain the closest allies in foreign and security matters.
The British government believes in the benefits of divergence and has a stable parliamentary majority; it intends to take a much more reliable approach to these negotiations than the May government. The EU must appreciate this. But, first of all, both parties should remember that the inability to conclude a deal would have turned into a great failure of state administration.
This article is written and prepared by our foreign editors writing for OBSERVATORY NEWS from different countries around the world – material edited and published by OBSERVATORY staff in our newsroom.
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