Time is running out, will Britain’s “Brexit” end in chaos?

  On December 31, 2020, the transitional period for Britain’s “Brexit” will end.

Britain and the EU are working hard to reach a trade agreement to avoid the five-year-long “Brexit” of the UK from ending in chaos.

  According to a Reuters report, Barnier, the chief negotiator of the European Union, held talks with Frost, the chief negotiator of Britain's "Brexit" on November 27.

He said on Twitter that day that there are still "huge differences" between the two sides.

Frost then wrote: “Time is running out, but an agreement may still be reached. I will continue to negotiate until it is clear that no agreement can be reached.” The negotiations between Britain and Europe have stalled. Can the two sides resolve the deadlock within the last month , Trying to avoid no-agreement "Brexit", aroused the attention of the international community.

Divide between Britain and Europe is difficult to bridge

  The negotiations on the future relationship between Britain and Europe centered on the trade agreement have been repeatedly extended, and the two sides have tried to reach an agreement to resolve the rules that will be followed by bilateral trade with an annual scale of nearly US$1 trillion after the transition period ends.

The UK initially set the goal of reaching an agreement framework in June, and later set mid-October as the deadline for negotiations.

Negotiations between the two sides resumed on October 22, but rarely released information to the outside world.

At present, there are no signs of breakthroughs in the three major areas of fishery, level playing field and contract performance management.

  "The fishery issue involves the fishing rights of EU fishermen in the waters of the United Kingdom. The contradictions between the two parties mainly focus on the access and quotas of EU fishing boats in the waters of the United Kingdom." Dong Yifan, a scholar of the Institute of European Studies of the China Institute of Modern International Relations, analyzed in an interview with our reporter , Britain’s “Brexit” has a greater impact on fishermen in countries around the North Sea such as France and Belgium.

From the perspective of the United Kingdom, although the fishing industry only contributed 0.03% of the United Kingdom’s economic output in 2019, it involves the British government’s political commitment to protect the interests of fishermen, and is regarded by many Brexit supporters as a renewed United Kingdom after Brexit. A symbol of sovereignty; from the perspective of the European Union, the interests of fishermen in France and other countries also affect their domestic politics.

Therefore, on the issue of fisheries, both the UK and the EU are tough.

  In terms of a level playing field, Dong Yifan pointed out that the EU believes that in order for the UK to enter the EU single market with a population of more than 400 million people, it needs to abide by EU rules. Otherwise, British companies may gain a competitive advantage by virtue of their own lower regulatory restrictions and higher national subsidies. This will affect fair competition between British and European companies.

But for the United Kingdom, formulating its own regulatory policies is one of its main demands for "Brexit", and it has a bearing on British sovereignty.

Therefore, the two sides are deadlocked.

  Regarding the cross-domain dispute settlement mechanism, Dong Yifan pointed out that the dispute settlement mechanism mainly involves the issue of applicable laws between the UK and the EU.

When a dispute arises in trade and investment, which arbitration institution in the UK and Europe will arbitrate?

This concerns the economic and trade interests, sovereignty, and judicial independence of both parties. This is the most complicated and acute issue in the negotiation.

  According to previous reports, if the UK and Europe fail to reach a trade agreement during the transition period, the two sides will return to the World Trade Organization (WTO) framework to re-implement border inspections and tariffs, and trade costs will increase.

In an interview with this reporter, Wang Yiwei, EU Chair Professor of "Jean Monnet" and Director of the Center for European Studies at Renmin University of China, pointed out: "If Britain and Europe develop trade cooperation within the framework of the WTO legal mechanism, they will face trade in services and intellectual property rights. Some issues such as imperfect laws. It is difficult for the UK and Europe to reach a unified application of legal standards, which also affects the progress of the negotiations."

Disputes within the EU

  According to the "Irish Times" report, as the UK's "Brexit" trade negotiations entered the final stage, various EU member states began to fiercely compete for a "Brexit" compensation worth 5 billion euros.

In July this year, the European Council proposed to set aside a special fund of 5 billion euros in the EU budget to help member states and related industries cope with the possible shocks that may be encountered after the expiration of the UK's "Brexit" transition period.

The European Commission is preparing to draft a plan to regulate how the funds will be allocated and what criteria will be used to calculate the impact of Britain’s “Brexit” on countries.

In this context, the EU member states lobbied the European Commission vigorously in order to tilt the final plan in a direction beneficial to them.

  "The distribution of fiscal subsidies has always been the focus of controversy among the 27 EU countries. EU countries have not reached an agreement on the rules and standards for the allocation of a special fund of 5 billion euros." Dong Yifan analysis, France, Belgium, the Netherlands and other countries with close trade with the United Kingdom It is believed that the losses caused by Britain’s “Brexit” in their own countries are large, so they should be compensated. Central and Eastern European member states believe that due to their weak economic strength, their ability to withstand the losses caused by the “Brexit” of the United Kingdom is relatively poor and should Get more subsidies.

At present, the “old European” countries such as France, the Netherlands, and Spain still have more say and are more influential in the distribution of compensation for “Brexit”.

  “Due to differences in interests and positions, the differences in special funds within the EU reflect the conflicts between EU member states in the allocation of financial resources, and also expose the fragility of unity within the EU. Under the impact of the epidemic, European countries The downward pressure on the economy is huge, and there is an urgent need to increase financial investment to revitalize the economy. Therefore, the fight for a special fund is more urgent, but the European Parliament is difficult to balance the rights of all parties. Disagreements within the EU have also affected the process of the UK's "Brexit" negotiations." Wang Yiwei analysis.

  According to the British "Guardian" report, European Commission President von der Lein previously stated in a speech at the European Parliament that the EU is willing to use its "creativity" in order to reach an agreement with the United Kingdom.

But she acknowledged that under time constraints, the prospect of the agreement is unclear.

EU leaders are scheduled to meet on December 10, and the European Parliament is scheduled to convene a special meeting on December 28 to approve the agreement.

However, any agreement needs to be finalized within the next few days to allow time for legal review and translation.

The prospect of negotiations is not bright

  Reuters reported that the "deadline" has experienced "numerous breakthroughs" due to a deadlock in the negotiations.

A diplomat also said in an interview with Reuters that the prospects for the current negotiations are "not bright."

  Dong Yifan believes that in the context of the current epidemic and economic recession, if the United Kingdom does not have an agreement to "Brexit", the economies of both Britain and Europe will be even worse.

The two parties may seek a technical solution and reach a temporary agreement to avoid the UK’s “Brexit” without an agreement on January 1, 2021.

  According to Bloomberg News, British Prime Minister Johnson stated in a TV interview that the UK’s “Brexit” agreement will depend on the European Union.

Even if a trade agreement cannot be reached, the UK can still maintain "great prosperity."

The UK is committed to signing independent trade agreements with other countries.

Up to now, the UK has reached the first major post-Brexit free trade agreement with Japan. Free trade agreements with the United States, Australia, and New Zealand are under negotiation, and they plan to start free trade negotiations with Canada next year.

  According to estimates by the Office of Budget Responsibility, the UK’s GDP will shrink by 11.3% in 2020, the country’s largest economic decline in 300 years; the budget deficit will reach 394 billion pounds, accounting for 19% of GDP, the highest since World War II At the same time, the Office of Budget Responsibility of the United Kingdom also reduced the GDP growth of the United Kingdom in 2021 from 8.7% to 5.5%.

Some agencies predict that next year, the unemployment rate in the UK may reach 7.5%.

  "The possibility of Britain's no-deal'Brexit' still exists. Both Britain and Europe are preparing for both sides. Generally speaking, no agreement's'Brexit' is more detrimental to Britain." Wang Yiwei analyzed, no agreement "Brexit" Later, the direct use of WTO regulations by Britain and Europe will cause greater confusion in the economic and trade fields of the United Kingdom, especially with regard to customs and regulatory issues.

Coupled with the severe impact of the epidemic on the UK, the UK is even more afraid of the economic impact of a no-deal "Brexit".

But whether the final "Brexit" agreement can be reached depends on whether the British Parliament can pass the "Brexit" agreement-related bills.

  Our reporter Gao Qiao

  "People's Daily Overseas Edition" (10th edition on December 01, 2020)