Endless Brexit

The Brexit draft and the political declaration on future relations between the United Kingdom and the EU were appoved at the Sunday's EU summit in Brussels. On the one hand, the talks between the European Commission and London ended with the formal adoption of the agreement on Britain’s exit from the European Union. On the other hand, it is clear that the process is not completed yet, and forcibly paused not to derail the Brexit deal, RISS expert Igor Pshenichnikov said.

There is no solution to the many problems of future relations between the EU and the UK in the political declaration. During the negotiations, which were held for several years after the British referendum in 2016, Brussels and London found almost no solutions. All negotiations on specific issues were postponed to the transition period, which will last until 31 December 2020.

The topical problem at the summit was Spain's threat to derail Brexit deal. Madrid asserted a claim to Gibraltar, its centuries-old territorial dispute with London. Spain insisted that the draft Brexit deal must be modified to make clear that Gibraltar’s future will rely solely on talks between Madrid and London. Just on the eve of the summit, Spain was provided some guarantees for the negotiations between Madrid and London on this issue. It was like a desperate EU attempt to put out the "Spanish fire". And this is the victory of British Prime Minister Theresa May. London got the opportunity to postpone Gibraltar issue, as it had done before. In expert's opinion, there would be no decision on Gibraltar in the near future.

However, this is the only real May's victory over her opponents. She has opponents even within her own Conservative Party, who believe that the Prime Minister attempting to implement a "soft Brexit" made too many concessions to the EU. Eurosceptics among the conservatives threaten to fail the vote in the British Parliament on the Brexit deal, which is to be held on December 12, and predict a vote of no confidence in May and her resignation.

According to RISS expert, the upcoming vote in the British Parliament will be very intriguing in the Brexit process. European Commission representatives have already stated at the summit that "the vote in the British Parliament will be the most important in recent decades, and British MPs should understand that we are either moving forward together, or we are entering a period of division and uncertainty."

After the official Britain’s exit from the EU, which is scheduled for March 29, 2019, negotiations on future relations between the EU and the UK will begin. London has an opportunity, if it is necessary, to extend the transition period once for an indefinite time.

The parties do not have a real understanding of how to come to mutually acceptable positions, first of all, on the trade agreement. It is already clear that London will seek to achieve the special status of EU's friend, which allows to trade with the EU with more comfortable conditions and at the same time to be independent. But many EU countries do not want the UK to enjoy the benefits of the EU and not to bear any obligations.

The problems in EK-EU relationship were unsolvable since the referendum in 2016, and they are still unsolvable. The recently signed trade agreement between the EU and Canada was developed for seven years. The trade agreement with the EU, which Britain hopes to sign, "is much more ambitious than any other agreement ever signed by the European Union." So the parties will be arguing for a long time, and there will be no solution to the EK-EU problems, RISS expert believes.

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