Post-Brexit trade negotiations would pose significant practical challenges for Whitehall

cargo shipThe implications of Brexit for the UK’s trade arrangements, a subject on which Leave and Remain campaigners have sharply disagreed, were addressed in the first two seminars of a series on Brexit hosted by the Constitution Unit and the UCL European Institute. Drawing on the comments of the seminar speakers, Oliver Patel discusses the impact that post-Brexit trade negotiations would have on Whitehall and the EU. Whitehall, in particular, would face a number of practical difficulties. Though not insurmountable, these mean that the process of negotiating new trade deals would be far from straightforward.

All of a sudden, everyone is talking about trade deals. The EU referendum Leave campaign argue that outside the EU the UK will prosper as it will be able to negotiate favourable trade deals with growing economies like India and Australia. Remain campaigners argue that this will not be easy and that being in the EU gives us more clout. Their cause was boosted by Barack Obama’s claim that the UK would have to join the back of queue if it wanted its own trade deal with the US.

Our first Brexit seminar and associated briefing paper assessed the impact of Brexit on Whitehall and Westminster. The panel agreed that the process of withdrawing from the EU would cause major headaches for Whitehall. This is primarily because of the various international negotiations which the UK would subsequently have to engage in, such as a withdrawal agreement with the EU and new free trade agreements with non-EU countries. Continue reading

The EU deal – what does it mean for immigration and benefits?

suitcasesJonathan Portes, Principal Research Fellow at NIESR, and a Senior Fellow of UK in a Changing Europe, takes a closer look at David Cameron’s EU deal, and asks what impact it may have on immigration to the UK, free movement of EU citizens, and the contested issue of access to in work benefits in the UK.

The President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, wrote on 2 February to the members of the Council (EU Heads of Government) setting out his proposals for a “new settlement for the UK within the European Union”. What does the proposal mean for free movement of workers in the EU, immigration to the UK, and our in-work benefit system? My very quick (apologies in advance for any inaccuracies or oversimplifications) are as follows. Continue reading

David Cameron Needs a Vision for the Future of Europe

map-europe-carMatt Wood, Lecturer in Politics at the University of Sheffield, analyses David Cameron’s recent attempts at negotiating reform of the EU. As Cameron concentrates on the UK’s position within the EU, is he missing the opportunity to secure allies by ignoring how EU reform could benefit all member states in the future?

If David Cameron can’t convince the Polish Prime minister of the need for change in the EU, it’s fair to say he’s going to have trouble convincing many leaders at all of his renegotiation ‘package’. Beata Szydlo, Poland’s newly elected, arch-right wing premier, stated that she could not accept Cameron’s proposal to curb access to benefits for migrants within the EU, claiming that she did ‘not see eye to eye’ with the UK Prime Minister. One of the key reasons for the difficulties in renegotiation has been the lack of vision about a broader future for the EU, which has failed to bring on board otherwise agreeable partners. Here I’m going to suggest Britain’s renegotiations need to provoke a rethink of the whole landscape of the EU, beyond the ‘froth and nonsense’ of migrant in-work benefits, as one Tory Minister put it. Doing so may well be necessary for Cameron to secure the support he currently lacks for a renegotiation deal. Continue reading

Five minutes with Emmanuel Mourlon-Druol: “The UK already opts out of anything it dislikes; it could very well end up leaving the EU on an entirely flawed debate”

numbers-time-watch-whiteIn an interview with UCL’s Claudia Sternberg, Emmanuel Mourlon-Druol, Lord Kelvin Adam Smith Fellow at the University of Glasgow’s Adam Smith Business School, discusses today’s EU referendum from the perspective of the last 50 years of the UK’s presence in EU.

In what ways is today’s EU referendum different from the June 1975 precedent?

The difference is that in 1974 the actual renegotiations started fairly quickly after British Prime Minister Harold Wilson’s re-election: he had tabled early on what he wanted to renegotiate. Today, we just know the fairly vague wish-list that David Cameron drew up. How this can materialise into a genuine ‘renegotiation’ process with all other EU member states is still a mystery today. Continue reading

Neglected issues in the EU Referendum Bill

Credit: Quinn DombrowskiProfessor Richard Rose, Director of the Centre for the Study of Public Policy at the University of Strathclyde, explores unresolved issues in relation to the EU referendum bill, including voting thresholds and prospective timelines of reform and EU negotiations.

 

Will there be a turnout threshold making the referendum decisive?

At the UK’s 2014 European Parliament (EP) election turnout was 35.6 percent and at the 2015 British general election it was 66.2 percent.

Turnout at EU referendums across Europe normally falls between an EP and a national election. This implies a likely UK turnout of around 51 percent. If this occurred, the referendum majority would be little more than one-quarter of the British electorate.

On issues of constitutional importance most democratic countries introduce special requirements to secure broader commitment. In the 1979 referendum on devolution to Scotland endorsement by 40 percent of the registered electorate was required to secure approval. Although a majority approved on a turnout of 63 percent, devolution failed since less than a third of the Scottish electorate approved the Act. Continue reading