“Brexit means uncertainty”, said Michel Barnier at the outset of the debate with European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) members on 6 of July,“uncertainty for citizens, businesses and jobs”.
As the EU chief negotiator Barnier stressed his task is to negotiate on the basis of what the United Kingdom requests, including end to free movement for EU citizens, full autonomy of laws, no role for the European Court of Justice, and the autonomy to sign free trade agreements. The latter involves leaving the Customs union and the Single market.
But there was also one certainty, he said, namely that the UK would become a third country, and this would entail three main consequences:
- basic freedoms – free movement of people, goods and capital – are indivisible;
- here is no option for a sector by sector participation in the Single Market;
- EU will keep its own independence in setting economic and social rules and standards that all third parties must respect.
The United Kingdom and the EU need to be aware that Brexit has a cost, Barnier continued, and it is the task of the negotiating team to keep this cost as low as possible. “From the EU’s side, there will be neither aggressiveness nor arrogance”, – Mr Barnier ensured, – “but we need to be ready for any situation, even a no deal situation, although this would be the worst-case scenario.”
EESC members raised their concerns on different aspects of Brexit, including consumer rights, social rights, and the trade policy. Irish and Northern Irish members have drawn attention to the issue of the Good Friday Agreement, which was achieved in the framework of the EU.
After the UK referendum Brussels has claimed a substantial amount of funds from Britons in so called ‘divorce’ settlement, permitting the EU to continue functioning up to the end of the budgetary term (2020) without need to curb any of the European projects; the ‘allowance’ also suggests the incumbent Brussels leadership will pass on the set of the problems, related to the departure of the second net contributor to the EU purse, to the next team.