Brexit, or civilized divorce in English
The heads of European states in Brussels adopted a document that will allow the U.K. to leave the EU. However, a “civilized divorce” still needs to be approved by the European Parliament and approved by the British parliament – and here there may be surprises.
The document has 565 pages, 185 articles and three special protocols on the border regime with Northern Ireland, the status of Gibraltar and the British military bases in Cyprus. However, it is too early to say that the “civilized divorce” of the European Union and Great Britain took place. The signing of the contract does not mean its acceptance. If not approved, consideration in the British Parliament can end in an unpleasant surprise. Opposition parties have already announced that they will not support the document. There are disagreements over its text within the ruling Conservative Party.
“It is very difficult to say what decision Parliament will take. The opposition party, of course, will vote against. In the ranks of the Conservatives, there are clearly those who will not support the decision of the government, and the question is how many defectors there will be on each side. There is party discipline, but, in practice, there is always someone who votes against the decision of the party. As a result, the count will be tight on every vote. The situation is very incomprehensible.”
Arriving at the Brexit summit in Brussels, French President Emmanuel Macron called for a “re-establishment” of the EU, since what happened, in his opinion, proved how fragile the union is and how it can be improved. Earlier, he called for the creation of a European army and a European budget. This fits perfectly into the ideology, which he is a supporter of, that the share of national independence in the EU should be reduced in favour of super-national government and planning.
“It is clear that now it can be regarded solely as another symbolic statement, nothing more. It will not speed up the process. It should be understood that the European Union has been moving in this direction for some time. For several years now, the process of consolidation of the EU economic and monetary union has been going on; more and more powers in this area are moving away from the national states to Brussels. Suffice it to recall the procedure of the European semester, during which the budgets of all member states are subject to preliminary monitoring in Brussels. The defence reform process begins, but this is a longer matter.”
The agreement, signed on November 25th in Brussels, provides, firstly, a transitional period until December 31, 2020. Up to this point, the EU will continue to treat Britain as a member state. Moreover, if necessary, this period may be extended until the end of 2022. Secondly, special regulation must be in place in regaining control at the border between Northern Ireland, part of the UK, and the Republic of Ireland, which remains in the EU. About 30,000 people live in one, and work in another country and cross the border every day. 57% of Northern Ireland’s exports go to the EU and 21% to Southern Ireland. Changing a number of norms, in particular veterinary and sanitary controls, can be detrimental to these regions. It is supposed to preserve for them a ‘single customs territory’ until the moment when a solution that suits everyone is found. A third matter is the protection of the rights of EU citizens living in the U.K. The contract implies that they must retain all rights, including the right to family reunification. At the end of the transition period, it will be necessary to reside in the U.K. for five years in order to obtain a permanent residence permit. Fourth is summarising the financial results of joint programmes. Not only budget, but also such others as scientific programmes, student exchange programmes and others need to be considered. Although the specific amount in the document is not given, it is assumed that the U.K. will have to pay for the joint obligations. According to estimates of the British government, this amount will be about €40 billion. Fifth is the retention of powers of the European Court of Trade Disputes during the transitional period. Sixth is enhanced cooperation to resolve issues related to Gibraltar in matters relating to taxation, customs, border control and fishing. The seventh point is the preservation of the primacy of European law for the territory of the two military bases of Great Britain in Cyprus. Eighth involves issues of preservation and protection of registered trademarks and geographical names, such as, for example, “Parma ham” or ‘champagne’. The final hearing on the document will be held in December. “I would like parliamentarians to respect the results of the referendum”, said Teresa May on Sunday. If the British parliament does not approve the treaty, it will mean that on March 29, 2019, at midnight Paris time, the United Kingdom will abruptly, without any transitional period, no longer be a member of the European Union.