The equation of relations between London and Brussels has now a lot more unknowns
The equation of relations between London and Brussels has now a lot more unknowns, after the United Kingdom left the European Union, after 47 years. It is an interesting and critical moment, opening up a different line of evolution for the European construction, according to Dan Mihalache, Romanian ambassador to the UK, speaking to Radio Romania:
“In the end it is an absolute first, the first country to leave the EU after many years, in a move with many unknowns about what is about to happen to the UK, and at the same time what will happen in the EU's future. These are unknowns that have to do with many, many things, from the status of citizens down to details that have to do with airline schedules or tax rates. There are thousands of threads that have connected the UK to the EU, beyond the legislative. If you will, this is the first great historic adventure of the century. This changes many things in relation to what we were perceiving as a world with an extremely stable direction, tied to the EU, tied to expansion, tied to the consolidation of the EU. And here you have a country that has chosen to walk a different road.”
The transition period started on 1 February 2020, and will last 11 months, with the possibility of prolonging for one year or two. The EU may offer London an extremely ambitious trade agreement that includes zero tariffs and rates, on condition that the UK comply now and in the future with EU standards, as announced by Michel Barnier, chief negotiator for Brexit. In London, PM Boris Johnson said that he will not accept for Brussels to condition an agreement on compliance with European rules, just as the EU is not obligated to comply with British rules. In his first post-Brexit speech, Boris Johnson spoke about the opportunity that Britain has to become a promoter of free trade. He mentioned the new trade agreements he wants to sign with countries of the Commonwealth and the United States, which may start this very year. Economic analyst Constantin Rudnitchi points out that the situation is by no means simple, and that a pretty tough and pragmatic process is about to follow, in which each side will try to have gain a benefit or impose a certain type of economic approach:
“What we know is that there will be a negotiated trade agreement. Foreign analysts say that we are stepping into the unknown, trade negotiations are starting, but we don't know when they will end. Of course we have some roadsigns. The first is that everyone would prefer having zero taxes, meaning no customs tax, or tariff barriers in both areas, but it remains to be seen if this is possible. There are a lot of analysts who say that the EU plans a deeper integration, an integration that we understand the UK to have rejected. It also seems to have an ambitious energy and environmental plan, a so-called 'green deal', which would incur costs for the EU. Therefore there is no way to not take into account these costs in relation to the other economic areas of the world. It will be a freedom of labor movement towards Great Britain, and then we will have to see which is the European and the British approach to that. Meaning if there will be a common package – freedom of movement of capital, of merchandise, and of labor force – that may be a huge problem with the Brits trying to find new solutions, and setting filters on who may work there.”
Mihai Sebe, with the European Institute in Romania, believes that everyone stands to lose from the Brexit, be it financially, considering the UK's contributions to the EU budget, or loss of face:
“Let's not forget that the UK is important from a military point of view, and if we were to talk about the academic presence, we can say that after the Brexit no UK university will be in the top 25. Also, even if this is displayed by a certain part of the political class as a triumphalist move, we may simplify things and say that the Brexit is the peak of a long period of the UK losing prestige on the international stage.”
We could say that this started right after WWI, with a gradual loss of weight in the world.