Brexit: An unprecedented journey



Larissa Brunner and Fabian Zuleeg | European Policy Centre

While the Brexit deal has been signed off by the EU27 leaders, getting it through Westminster will be tricky, with a catastrophic and chaotic no deal Brexit by default, not design, still a distinct possibility. But even if the deal is signed off, there are effectively no upsides for the UK. It is a loss of economic integration, and thus growth and jobs, as well as political power. And the next phase in the negotiations will be even more difficult, given that this will be the worst trade deal in history with no benefits from increased trade but only costs from the disintegration of the existing common market.

Two and a half years after the United Kingdom voted to leave the EU, the end of the Article 50 negotiations hasbeen reached, pending ratification of the deal on bothsides. On Sunday 25 November the EU27 leaders signed off the Withdrawal Agreement and the draft Political Declaration on the future EU-UK relationship. UK Prime Minister Theresa May now has to defend the deal at home, with a meaningful vote in the House of Commons scheduled for 11 December.

Regarding content, the Withdrawal Agreement offers few surprises. The most challenging sticking point was the Irish backstop. EU and UK negotiators resolved the issue by agreeing to effectively keep the entire United Kingdom – and not just Northern Ireland – in a customs union if no other solution to prevent a hard Irish border can be found by the end of the transition period. But, contrary to the wishes of many in the British debate, there will be no unilateral exit clause from the backstop for the UK. This compromise has angered Conservative Brexiteers, as well as the DUP, which, due to closer regulatory alignment, still sees a differentiation for Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK.


To view the original posting of this report on the European Policy Centre website, click here.

Copyrights © 2018 EPC All rights reserved.