- The European Union and Britain are in disagreement on a number of issues.
- The U.K. wants to maintain its relationship with Northern Ireland post-Brexit.
- The Brexit transition period ends on December 31.
The United Kingdom is on a collision course with the European Union even before Brexit talks begin. On Thursday, London rejected proposed post-Brexit rules by the union. Cabinet minister Michael Gove told embers of Parliament that the country was not going to forfeit its sovereignty in its quest for political and economic independence.
“At the end of the transition period on the 31st of December, the United Kingdom will fully recover its economic and political independence.
We want the best possible trading relationship with the E.U., but in pursuit of a deal we will not trade away our sovereignty.”
London has declared that it will no longer abide by decisions made by the Court of Justice of the European Union. It intends to void the agency’s status as an arbitration body once it leaves the bloc. London is also opposing the E.U. member states’ desire for a ‘level playing field’ under similar competitive conditions. On the other hand, Brussels wants to prevent the United Kingdom from becoming a direct competitor at its doorstep.
A showdown is likely to occur if London chooses to set up incendiary rules. The union is expected to retaliate by blocking access to its markets.
Fishing and Finance
Ultimately, London does not want to lose access to the European Union’s financial market and is likely to seek concessions in this area. Fishing is also a controversial topic. Brussels wants to maintain the status quo. It wants fishers from the E.U. to be allowed access to the rich British fishing zones. But Prime Minister Boris Johnson is in disagreement with this proposal. While the bloc is angling for a permanent deal, he wants annual fishing-rights renegotiations.
Talks are set to begin on Monday in Brussels. If no agreement is reached by June, the British government plans to cancel the negotiations and prepare to leave without a deal. There is talk of an Australian-style trade pact.
Without an agreement, the United Kingdom intends to fall back to World Trade Organization rules. The consequences would be a Hard Brexit. Vindictive import and export tariffs on both sides are likely to be set. The economic damage is likely to be enormous for both parties if this happens.
Brexit is currently in a transition phase after it was ratified by parliament on January 31. E.U. rules applying to the United Kingdom as a member state remain unchanged until December 31. The United Kingdom will formally terminate its membership with the group at the end of the transition period.
The Irish Issue
Boris Johnson’s exit strategy stipulates that Northern Ireland will continue to follow E.U. statutes while maintaining its customs contract with Britain. This way, people will still be able to move freely between the two countries. Goods coming into North Ireland from the U.K. will, however, be checked for compliance with E.U. standards. Johnson has emphasized that there will be no inspection of goods coming from Northern Ireland into England.