Wednesday

16th Jan 2019

Opinion

Brexit deal not looking good

  • UK prime minister Theresa May with EU Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker. 'All in all, this is not looking very much like a meaningful Brexit in progress' (Photo: European Commission)

I cannot believe that there are too many people who believe that the whole Brexit negotiation process is running smoothly.

But with so many vested interests, both economic and political, this was always going to be the case, especially when David Cameron had ruled out any pre-referendum involvement by the civil service, and the subsequent nine month delay in actually invoking Article 50.

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But as the process moves along (often at a snail's pace), we are starting to see what the Brexit deal is going to look like, and it does not look very much like 'Brexit' to me.

Firstly, the UK is to leave Euratom, but this agency operates more as a trade association and allows for the transfer of knowledge in the nuclear power market; something of high importance as we decommission our aging power plants. This was a knee jerk reaction by the government last summer to be doing something.

Secondly, we are being forced out of Europol, a rather small and ineffective agency, despite Teresa May's efforts to keep us in.

But chancellor Philip Hammond is refusing to rule out the UK staying in the customs union.

However, it looks as though the UK will continue to pour funds into the EU's research agency, Horizon 2020, and we will continue to stay in the education body, Erasmus.

We will continue to pay into the central EU budget until at least the end of the transition period, something which will include funding the formation of the EU army.

We will also be committed to accepting all new EU rules and regulations until the final whistle.

The European Court of Justice will also have jurisdiction over EU citizens living in the UK for eight years.

The City will remain EU compliant (the MiFiD ii [Markets in Financial Instruments Directive] having just come into force), and as yet we have no word whether or not our power and industrial sectors will remain governed by Brussels' rules on carbon emissions, but evidence presented to the select committee suggests that this is highly likely.

It is also looking likely that post Brexit the UK will effectively remain within the Common Fisheries Policy.

In terms of getting our contributions into the EU's financial institutions back there has been a promise that we will get back our share of the European Investment Bank by 2054.

But, there has been no word if we are getting back our share of the European Investment Fund or the European Fund for Strategic Investments, of which the UK is the single largest contributor with €8.5 billion tied up.

Nor too has there been any mention of our share of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development which is owned on our behalf by the EU.

Neither too will we be able to plan ahead as the EU has informed us that any trade deal cannot be concluded before Brexit and are insisting that the four freedoms (labour, capital, goods, and services) are still non-negotiable.

To sum up, the Brexit plan as it stands at the moment involves the UK leaving two minor agencies, continuing to pay into Brussels coffers, being subject to all existing and future rules, remaining within the Common Fisheries Policy, not getting back our money on loan, and being denied the right to plan ahead as the EU digs in its heels.

All in all, this is not looking very much like a meaningful Brexit in progress.

Diane James is an member of the European Parliament for the UK Independence Party.

Following publication of this opinion piece, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) contacted EUobserver to clarify that "The EBRD is not an EU institution. The EU is one shareholder among 68, the United States being the largest single shareholder. The UK has a holding in the EBRD in its own right."

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