Getting Out Quick and Playing the Long Game

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Series Details No.7, 2016 (July 2016)
Publication Date July 2016
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A ‘three step’ Brexit solution, including an ambitious transitional arrangement, is key to meeting the aspirations of the British people and reaching a mutually beneficial long-term relationship with the EU, argues a new briefing authored by Professors Damian Chalmers and Anand Menon published by Open Europe in July 2016.

The ‘three step’ solution proposed would see the UK leave the EU towards the end of 2018 and enter a transitional arrangement, possibly lasting until 2024, which would offer the time and space needed to more coolly and calmly negotiate a long-term agreement. Part of the process of arriving at such a solution would be the intense involvement of both stakeholder and non-stakeholder society to elucidate far more clearly what British citizens desire from a new relationship with the EU.

The authors argue that the outcome of the EU referendum should set the parameters for a transitional agreement in which:

+ Parliamentary sovereignty should be restored. In addition, all EU law would be transposed into British law and a ‘Petitions Committee’ should be empowered to hold hearings on whether particular laws amongst these should be repealed or amended on the basis of a petition from a certain threshold of British citizens or companies. The UK should no longer be subject to the formal force of the EU Court of Justice’s judgments.

+ An assessment would be carried out to minimise the impacts of any amendment or repeal of these laws on EU citizens or interests. EU States would also be able to make formal representations to Parliament about the impacts of any law. In addition, a joint UK-EU commission would be established to assess when EU countermeasures would be appropriate if British laws, judgments or interpretations by British regulatory bodies departed from prior EU law.

+ British actors would continue to receive EU grants during the transitional period but the UK should no longer formally contribute in net terms to the EU budget. If necessary, direct UK bilateral support could be offered to the poorer EU member states to secure this deal.

+ Scotland and possibly Northern Ireland will need a closer relationship with the EU than other parts of the UK. This could involve Scotland keeping EU law in place in return for informal participation in the Committee of Permanent Representatives (COREPER), the body of civil servants which prepare Council of Ministers meeting.
Free movement of EU citizens cannot carry on in its current form. To secure access to the single market, a compromise would be to grant residence only to those who have an offer of a full time job and a new income threshold for those seeking to bring their families to the UK, as is the case for UK nationals seeking to bring in a non-EU spouse.

The authors conclude that the hurdles to such a transitional agreement should not be underestimated. Nevertheless, it could appeal to EU partners since it secures a quick Brexit and allows a high degree of economic predictability while negotiating a longer-term deal. Within the UK, such an arrangement would allow the broadest possible participation in the process of untangling the UK from EU law as well as allowing this disentanglement to take place in a speedy and orderly manner. And, crucially, such a transitional deal would offer the best hope of arriving at a mutually satisfactory longer term relationship between the UK and the EU.

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Related Links
ESO: In Focus: Brexit - The United Kingdom and the European Union
ESO: Background information: The EU Referendum, 23 June 2016. The United Kingdom and the European Union. The results
ESO: Background information: No more denial: let’s accept the inevitable and fight for the best Brexit we can
ESO: Background information: What will actually be negotiated once Article 50 is triggered?
Blog: UK in a Changing Europe, 21.07.16: Destination Brexit: a 'reverse enlargement' approach
Blog: UK in a Changing Europe, 19.07.16: From Brexit to EU-UK strategic partnership
The Conversation, 07.09.16: So, what does Brexit mean?

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