Brexit Negotiations

Adam Wildman argues that article 50 can be used as a great bargaining chip by delaying its invocation, in order to avoid the 2 years time limit, and gain benefits from the incoming French and German national elections. With rising Euroscepticism, this is clearly the best time for the UK to ‘extract as many concessions as possible’ from other European countries. On the side of the EU, Joris Luyendijk provocatively invokes “project pain”, by arguing that EU should aim at inflicting the maximum political and economic damage to the UK negotiating Brexit arrangements. The first reason for this is to protect the integrity of the EU, by dissuading Euroscepticism within the rest of Europe and sanctioning UK’s freeriding. Moral qualms against this are understandable, but we should not ignore the fact that much of the British political elite has been using the EU as a football for their own irresponsible petty ends. The second argument for “project pain” is that UK democracy is suffering a legitimacy crisis, and Brexit politicians need to be rendered accountable for the use of deceitful manipulation to sell the idea, the macho swagger of its proponents and delusions about the outcome. A new YouGov EuroTrack survey in six EU countries suggests that there is very little support for a lenient negotiating attitude, while 53% of British adults expect a generous deal. The only other EU nation in favour is Denmark, whereas European heavy-hitters, France and Germany, opt for the iron-fisted approach by identical margins, with 53% of people in favour of not offering a generous deal to the UK. Asked specifically about future trading terms, nearly a quarter of adults in France and Germany say the EU should not offer Britain a free trade deal at all, and nearly half would only support a free trade deal with Britain in exchange for them allowing EU citizens to live and work there – the “free movement of labour” many pro-Brexit voters likely felt they had rejected in June’s referendum. Marise Cremona observes that an amicable and cooperative separation is in the interest of both the UK and the EU, but it depends on the UK taking a constructive stance and recognising its continuing responsibilities as a Member State. Before the Article 50 notification has been given, the UK is still under full Member State obligations and thus not empowered to negotiate on trade matters. It would be in breach of its obligations of sincere cooperation by engaging in informal talks with third parties about post Brexit trade arrangements.

Causes of Brexit

James Dennison and Noah Carl write that the ultimate causes of Brexit are far more profound than the usually suggested demagogy, xenophobia, and protest vote. Evidence from the BES internet panel and Lord Ashcroft’s poll suggests that national sovereignty may have been just as important an issue for Leavers as immigration. A sizable Eurosceptic faction (ranging between 30% and 60%) has remained extant in Britain over the last four decades, in contrast with other European countries. The UK has always been the least integrated country in the EU, as it has consistently been ranked among the bottom 2-3 over the 28 members with respect to European identification; trust in the European Union; Britons living in other EU countries; imports and exports; foreign direct investment in-stock and out-stock.

Sustainability of Migration

A NY Times Editorial argues that the immigration crisis is Europe’s continuing shame, and the failure to address it with a coherent and humane plan is more dangerous to European stability than recent terrorists’ attacks. Robert Skidelsky argues that free migration is not sustainable any longer. An historical perspective suggests three conclusions: first, anti-immigrant sentiment is not based only on prejudice, ignorance, or political opportunism. Second, the era of unregulated mass population movements is drawing to a close, as public opinion is shifting. Third, most of the refugees are not going to return home. The fatal flaw of EU’s neoliberal project of maximizing market-based resource allocation by free immigration is that it presupposed a state to manage the movement, but no such state was never actually present. Internally, the economic divide between east and west Europe might equalize in time, and thus immigration may trend down. However, it is not reasonable to expect as much for Africa and the Middle east.

This Ideas Monitor is by Giulia Bistagnino and Carlo Burelli

Photo Credits CC: Carlos ZGZ 

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