Basing on the latest news, the UK recognized to have a book account with Brussels. After more than a year of uncertainty, since the UK voted to leave the EU on June 23rd 2016, things are starting to be clearer. To understand better this situation, let’s have a look back at some of the most important moments since that day.
By the end of June 2016, the whole world becomes aware of the decision of UK to exit the EU. Theresa May becomes the new British Prime Minister, guiding the country through the negotiations, after David Cameron announced his resignation for losing the referendum.
The Bank of England chose to cut rates and later the British pound collapses in value, dropping to levels unseen in the last 30 years. More than 4 million of people signed a petition, asking for a second referendum. The British Supreme Court announces that the Parliament must approve in order to activate art 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, to exit the European Union. In January 2017, the real Brexit begins and in March the Queen grants royal assent to the Brexit Bill giving Theresa May legal power to start the process of leaving the EU.
But like any divorce, it’s not easy!Only one certainty: art 50 of the Treaty declares that a state’s exit procedure must not exceed 2 years, meaning that the UK is scheduled to leave on March 29th 2019. The agreement must be approved by the majority of the European states and by the European Parliament.
Hard Brexit or soft Brexit? What are the pros and cons? There is not a very strict definition but these two expressions generally refer to the UK’s post-Brexit approach with the EU.
On one hand, “hard” Brexit would mean no compromises on issues like free movement of people and leaving the single market so, trading with the EU as a non-European country. This arrangement would give Britain the full control over its borders, making new trade deals and applying laws within its own territory. This would probably imply the application of tariffs and/or trade restrictions between UK and EU, on each other, leading to an increase in bureaucratic practices. But, as the International Trade Secretary Liam Fox said, this “hard” approach would benefit UK by making it a global trading nation.
On the other hand, “soft” Brexit would leave the UK’s relationship with EU as close as possible to the existing one, keeping the free access to the European single market not as a member of the EU but as part of the European Economic Area, following Norway and Iceland. Since a harsh break could damage the UK’s economy and furthermore Europe, this approach is suggested and preferred by the many.
Despite Theresa May made more than once clear that “Brexit means Brexit” the “hard” strategy has been abandoned after the result of the general elections.
The first round of negotiation officially began on June 19th, when Brexit Secretary David Davis arrived in Brussels to negotiate the terms with EU Commission’s Chef Negotiator Michael Barnier. The rounds will be organized every 4 weeks and they will consist of plenary sessions and negotiating group meeting. The first initial groups comprehend: citizens’ rights, financial settlement and other separation issues like Euratom, Issues relating to the functioning of the Union institutions, agencies and bodies, in addition a dialogue on issues pertaining to Northern Ireland.
There are still many questions to be answered but the outcome of the first negotiation is outlined in the “Terms of Reference” agreed between the UK and the European Commission.