The EU and the UK embarked on an intensified final phase of Brexit negotiations at the end of this week after Britain agreed to lift its blockade on negotiations. The breakthrough came after a call between the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, and his UK counterpart David Frost, with both sides agreeing to resume talks. Negotiations were deadlocked due to Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s decision to demand a “fundamental” overhaul of the bloc before allowing further meetings.
Mr Johnson had criticized a statement adopted by EU leaders at a summit last week, which called on the UK to “take the necessary steps to make a deal possible”, saying there was no point in continue negotiations if all concessions were to come from the British side. .
After nearly 9 months of negotiations, it is still unclear whether Britain will return home with a deal at the end of the transition period or not.
And according to a recent report by Lee Rotherham, the former director of special projects at Vote Leave, former prime minister Theresa May is to blame.
Mr Rotherham explained: “The EU has historically entered into trade agreements with other countries in 65 – almost certainly more – distinct ways over time, as it has chosen to define them itself.
“More importantly, the minimalist nature of the treaties at the bottom of this vast scale is such that they demonstrate that a collapse of the current Brexit negotiations can still offer a range of fruits at hand.
“The EU is perfectly used to bundling ‘mini-deals’ when it has not been able to improve.
“Put simply, if a decent FTA is accepted by the Commission, there is no excuse for the negotiations not to result in a fallback plan B of a simpler enabling arrangement.
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“And if that doesn’t happen, there is absolutely no excuse not to generate a plan C of text to suspend a series of mini-deals. Any Commission press officer who says otherwise is spinning more than a pulsar. ”
Mr. Rotherham has broken all the various trade deals pursued by the bloc.
The first group concerns the status of EU member, official or otherwise.
Then there is the group that is in close orbit, constituting the regulatory or customs union, or both.
The third category are the examples the UK has aimed at under Mr Johnson.
These are what we might call “developed trade agreements”, which firmly hold intergovernmental trade through FTAs or FTAs +.
In addition, there are what could be lumped together as the baselines behind bilateral and multilateral agreements.
Finally, there is what one might call long-spoon arrangements, involving closed or closed societies or economies.
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According to the strategist, in the process of transitioning from basic membership to the EU, Ms. May’s team made “a catastrophic strategic error in targeting the second type of agreement, in trying to minimize change rather than to embrace the referendum mandate ”.
Had she gone for a free trade deal from the start, argued Rotherham, the negotiations might have gone differently.
However, the prominent Eurosceptic noted that with luck, Britain could still end up with a deal in the third group.
He concluded in his article for Global Vision: “But if we look at the lists, if we don’t, and if we refer back to the negotiating mandate that the Council defined in Barnier, a number of objectives are still covered. quite extensively in the type of treaty facilitating trade.
Even then, if a developed agreement still cannot be reached, there are many examples of a simpler and empowering agreement that can serve as a springboard for continuity even as the legal basis for cooperation otherwise disappears as a tide. “