On January 31, at 23:00 GMT (at 02:00 Moscow time on February 1), the United Kingdom will leave United Europe. Exactly one day before the planned date, the European Union completed the process of ratification of the Brexit agreement - it was approved by the last instance - the Council of the EU.
“The Council made a decision in writing to conclude a withdrawal agreement,” the statement said.
However, the brexit process ends legally, but not in fact - until December 31, 2020, the so-called transitional period will operate. During this period, the UK will continue to comply with all obligations and enjoy all the rights of a member of the European Union with the exception of one: it will not have a representative office and voting rights in EU authorities.
During the transition period, Britain must conclude a cooperation agreement with the European Union. This document will spell out the rules of interaction in all areas - from trade to defense.
However, the exact date for the start of negotiations on the agreement has not yet been determined; the positions of the parties are also not.
“Great Britain and the EU, having agreed to Brexit and not deciding what will happen after it, ran ahead and now think what to do next. Very difficult negotiations are coming. It is not clear what the trade agreement will be, how duties, fisheries, visas will be regulated. In a word, there is a whole range of problems that, in my opinion, are unlikely to be solved in a year, ”Vladimir Schweitzer, head of the department of social and political studies at the Institute of Europe of the Russian Academy of Sciences, expressed his point of view in an interview with RT.
In turn, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen admitted that progress in the negotiations could not be quickly achieved. She suggested that until July 1, 2020, the EU will be forced to decide on an extension of the transition period for the UK.
Between Brussels and Washington
Experts believe that the British will not immediately feel the consequences of leaving the European Union.
“On February 1, ordinary people in the UK will not feel any changes, because nothing will change. The transition period, in fact, was created in order to mitigate the effects of Brexitis. Freedom of movement will continue, no visas will be required to move from the continent to the United Kingdom or vice versa. Prices will not rise. Changes will not be felt, but they will occur, and ordinary Britons will realize their consequences only after the end of the transition period, ”explained Kira Godovanyuk, senior researcher at the Center for British Studies at the Institute of Europe of the Russian Academy of Sciences.
- Boris Johnson
- © Henry Nicholls
The transition period will be a great test for the government of Boris Johnson, experts warn. The Cabinet of Ministers will have to not only have difficult negotiations with Brussels, but also to prove to the British people that the titanic efforts made to conclude a Brexit deal were not in vain. He must demonstrate that in the UK after leaving the EU it will be better than before him, analysts say.
Brexit Minister Stephen Barkley said in an interview with the BBC that "we can now set our own high standards, including in respect of workers' rights, environmental protection and the provision of state assistance." At the same time, he tried to reassure the British, who were afraid of the negative consequences of Brexit, adding that the Johnson government would be very careful in changing the existing laws and regulations.
“We will not change them just to be different (from the EU. - RT ),” he said.
But, according to Godovanyuk, it is unlikely that London will be able to completely "insure" the British from the negative consequences of Brexit.
“Too much will have to start from scratch. In addition, in parallel, the UK will negotiate a trade agreement with third countries, in particular with the United States. Johnson spoke about this. And surely there will be difficulties with setting priorities, ”the expert believes.
She draws attention to the fact that a free trade agreement with Washington will imply a transition to US standards in the UK, and EU and United States standards are very different.
“The British will have to choose which economic ties are more important for them - with the US or with the European Union. This is a very unpleasant choice that many in the country would not want to make, ”Godovanyuk believes.
At the same time, delays in choosing can be very dangerous. The expert warns that a period of uncertainty is always fraught with some kind of losses and economic costs.
“There may be a reduction in economic growth, at least in the short term,” she predicts.
Can I go back
Experts also draw attention to the fact that during the transition period the problem of the territorial integrity of the state will inevitably worsen. Scotland continues to insist on a referendum on independence, but Johnson strongly opposed the organization of a plebiscite in autonomy.
- There are still many EU supporters in the UK
- © Henry Nicholls
“However, this does not mean that the Scots will abandon the idea of independence. I believe that, on the contrary, the desire to secede from Britain in the transition period will intensify. The problems associated with the exit from the EU will reveal a lot. For example, the question arises, what to do with foreign labor? Without labor migrants from the European Union, the country's economy will not do. But how to regulate their numbers now? What taxes should they pay? Naturally, Edinburgh will have a strong desire to secede, so that everything remains as it is, ”says Vladimir Schweitzer.
Kira Godovanyuk believes that Johnson will fight Scottish separatism by providing autonomy with additional powers and increasing funding for the regions. But, according to Schweitzer, the main factor keeping Britain from collapsing will be the position of the European Union.
“No matter how many Scots want to return to the EU,“ united Europe ”is just not ready to take and accept a new member. One consequence of Brexit is certain: the European Union will now be very attentive to every country that asks for it, ”says Schweitzer.
Nevertheless, experts do not exclude that in the near future the idea of returning to the European Union will gain popularity in England.
“The EU would be glad if Great Britain returned. There are no legal obstacles to this. Another thing is that the process of returning to the European Union will be almost as long as leaving it, ”says Godovanyuk.
In turn, Vladimir Schweitzer believes that the latter will win anyway in the struggle of opponents and supporters of withdrawal from the European Union.
“The idea of Brexit did not come out of nowhere; it has deep roots in British society. Great Britain has always felt a bit alien in the EU. The problems that shared it with the rest of the European Union were more than enough. Therefore, the British voted for Brexit. It is not in their nature to refuse a decision. This people is very stubborn, ”he said.
Schweizer also draws attention to the position of the United States, which, objectively, will play to break ties between the UK and the European Union.
“America never took an anti-European position until Donald Trump came to the White House. He is a supporter of Brexit and the strengthening of ties between the UK and the USA. If Trump wins the presidential election in November 2020, and this is likely, British opponents of returning to the European Union will receive strong support from Washington, ”the expert predicted.