At long last, the EU and the UK agreed on a Brexit deal just before Christmas. After months of negotiations, white smoke emerged on 24 December, as EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that their negotiators had reached a historic agreement. Most importantly, this meant that a no-deal scenario, which would have dramatic consequences for the UK and EU economies, had been avoided. But is that enough to make it a good agreement for Liberals on both sides of the Channel?
By Sandra Khadhouri, Project Partner, Keeping Channels Open, supported by European Dialogue, Friedrich Naumann Foundation
This year’s coronavirus has taken the world by storm and created a sense of powerlessness among citizens everywhere. We have all had to be creative in finding ways to stay positive, productive and supportive of our local communities in the face of this unprecedented situation. Another area beyond the control of the average British person has been the course of the Brexit negotiations and the shape of the final deal. There has been little opportunity to influence a more constructive UK approach which safeguards precious trade and cooperation in a number of areas. Lobbying efforts by campaigners, opposition parties, and businesses has changed little, including the publicly-supported campaign for an extension to the transition period beyond 2020 in light of COVID disruption. This all begs the question – how do we proactively take action in the years ahead, rather than continuing to be a victim of circumstance, lamenting the damage to UK-EU trade and relations as powerless bystanders?
Yet another Brexit deadline was missed last week, as EU and UK negotiators failed to reach an agreement before the European Council summit in Brussels. Political leaders from both sides put the blame on each other, but, as always, negotiations continue. For a deal to be reached before end of the year, major concessions are needed now. But the question is: who blinks first?
As Brexit discussions move into the final stretch, the Liberal Democrats held their first-ever online party conference last weekend. Although uncertainties about the UK’s future relationship with the EU remain, the Lib Dems made the first steps to define their post-Brexit agenda.
On 1 July, Germany takes over the EU Council Presidency and faces a major agenda. [Part 4]
The 1 July deadline for the UK to apply for an extension of the Brexit transition period coincided with the start of Germany’s six-month rotating EU Presidency. Germany took the helm at a time of unprecedented political and economic challenges, ranging from the COVID-19 response to the already tense negotiations on the EU’s next multiannual financial framework (MFF). However, with just six months of negotiation time left, Brexit is also set to be high on the Presidency’s agenda.
Failure of the negotiations becoming more likely
The ship has sailed. This sentence probably best describes the general interest in Brexit and the state of the British opposition. Yet the important decisions are being made only now.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson won the landmark House of Commons elections last December and led his country out of the European Union on 31st January. Since then, the Brexit is no longer a spectre of political debate, but a fact.
The general interest in the UK’s withdrawal from the EU has waned noticeably on both sides of the English Channel. This is all the more true since the coronavirus pandemic has swept across Europe and its catastrophic consequences have overshadowed other events.