Thomas Raines

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Whether feared or longed for, Brexit day has arrived. It is positive for all sides that the process is thus far managed and ordered, with debts paid, rights guaranteed and borders still invisible on the island of Ireland. But in a difficult new phase of negotiations, as the UK and EU try to hammer out the terms of their relationship after 2020, Britain is at risk of repeating many of its mistakes from the withdrawal talks.

First, the government, through the negotiation timeline, has reduced its own room for manoeuvre. The failure of the initial withdrawal agreement and subsequent turbulent politics have reduced a planned 21-month transition to an 11-month one.…  Seguir leyendo »

Boris Johnson speaks after the Conservatives secured a majority in the UK general election. Photo: Getty Images.

What does the UK election result mean for Brexit and forthcoming trade negotiations with the EU?

The most important thing is that it means Brexit will definitely happen. Since the referendum, we’ve had three-and-a-half years of continued uncertainty where all outcomes were still possible. We now know that Brexit will become irreversible from 31 January.

That’s the biggest thing, because I think that will have a big psychological impact on politics, both in the UK and also on the EU side. The EU has been working with a partner that has been unsure about its direction, and perhaps some had still hoped that the process might still be reversed, but that direction is now completely clear.…  Seguir leyendo »

Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn at the state opening of Parliament in October. Photo: Getty Images.

Genuine ideological differences have returned to British politics. That is as true in foreign policy as in questions of domestic politics. The post-Cold War foreign policy consensus in UK politics around liberal multilateralism is fraying.

This tradition had some key characteristics. It saw Britain as one of the cornerstones of an international order built on a liberal (or neo-liberal if you prefer) approach to economic globalization. EU membership was considered central to Britain’s influence and prosperity (even if further political integration never had deep support). Security policy was grounded in a stable package of NATO membership, close ties to the US, nuclear deterrence and a willingness to conduct military intervention.…  Seguir leyendo »

US President Donald Trump and President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker walk away after the conclusion of a joint statement in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC on 25 July 2018. Photo credit: Getty Images

A decade of crises has generated plenty of pessimism about the European Union. It is certainly true that the EU faces structural challenges and political divisions over reforming the euro and migration policy, as well as disputes over the rule of law in some member states. But these problems should not obscure the union’s strengths.

The EU is a trade, regulation and standard-setting superpower, and even while international cooperation stalls in some areas, it can help to lead the world in regulating markets on crucial questions of privacy, competition, technology and the environment.

In 2012 Anu Bradford, a professor at Columbia Law School, christened the EU’s ability to export its regulations around the world as the ‘Brussels effect’, borrowing from a term used to describe the phenomenon in the US in which Californian regulations – often more stringent than in the rest of the country – are adopted in other US states due to California’s relative economic heft.…  Seguir leyendo »

‘Please do not waste this time.’ When EU leaders agreed to extend negotiations with the UK back in April, Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council, cautioned exhausted British parliamentarians to refocus on finding a way forward. Six weeks later and with European elections conducted, Britain is leaderless and Brexit is adrift. October will be here in no time.

Theresa May was dealt a hand that was nearly impossible to play well, but in the event, she played it very badly. Perhaps the most significant error was to trigger the Article 50 negotiations in March 2017 at a time when the planning and preparation was still getting into gear, and without a workable consensus within her cabinet, party or Parliament.…  Seguir leyendo »

Parliament returned from its summer recess on 4 September. Photo: Getty Images.

The UK parliament has returned from its summer break with a political crisis on the near horizon. More than two years after the EU referendum, the range of outcomes that are still plausible has not gotten smaller. It is conceivable that Britain could leave the EU without any form of deal; that it could leave with a withdrawal agreement and a stable transition; that Article 50 could be extended; or even still, unlikely though it is, that Brexit might not happen.

The government’s white paper, popularly known as the Chequers plan, has done little to create certainty, and indeed it has made a parliamentary confrontation all the more likely.…  Seguir leyendo »

Theresa May speaks to her cabinet at Chequers on 6 July. Photo: Getty Images.

During his visit to the UK, President Donald Trump seemed to take sides on Brexit, telling the Sun Thursday that UK Prime Minister Theresa May 'is striking a much different deal than the one the people voted on'. While harshly critical of May, it raises the key question: What should Brexit look like?

Last Monday, Boris Johnson, Brexit’s most high-profile champion, followed the Brexit secretary David Davis in quitting the government, believing its proposed new approach does not deliver on the promises made to the country by the Leave campaign, which he helped lead.

In his resignation letter, Johnson mourns that the 'Brexit dream is dying'.…  Seguir leyendo »

March in support of the EU in Frankfurt on 26 March. Photo via Getty Images.

The triggering of Article 50 marks the symbolic enactment of Britain's EU referendum result and the start of what is likely to be the most complex negotiation the UK has ever undertaken.

So far, the governments of the other 27 EU member states have been strongly united around two basic positions: that there should be no ‘pre-negotiations’ before the formal triggering of Article 50, and that Britain should not be allowed to ‘cherry-pick’ the benefits of EU membership while avoiding the costs. This consensus has proved impressively durable in the eight months since the referendum. They want a constructive deal but they also want to prevent Brexit from undermining the integrity of the union.…  Seguir leyendo »

Protesters gather in London to protest against President Trump's order banning refugees and citizens of 7 majority Muslim countries from travelling to the US.

President Donald Trump’s executive order to ban citizens of seven Muslim-majority states from entering the US for 90 days, and temporarily freeze all refugee arrivals (including Syrians indefinitely), has been interpreted widely as an attempt to curtail the inward migration of Muslims, which Trump and his supporters argue pose a threat to national security.

Trump’s policy has generated a backlash among some of Europe’s leaders. Angela Merkel’s spokesman said the chancellor had ‘explained’ the UN Refugee Convention to the president in a phone call discussing the order, while London Mayor Sadiq Khan argued that the invitation to the president for a state visit to Britain in 2017 should be withdrawn until the ban is rescinded.…  Seguir leyendo »

The political history of post-war Europe has moved steadily in one direction: towards greater cooperation and integration among European nation-states. If Britain votes to leave the European Union, it will be not just a turning point for Britain but a rupture for Europe. The consequences of reversing that arrow of integration, of unpicking the hitherto irreversible character of the EU, cannot be fully known. But the risks for the rest of Europe – and for the most advanced experiment in supranational government and intergovernmental cooperation in the history of the modern world – should not be underestimated.

The temptation is to see Britain and its debate as distinct.…  Seguir leyendo »

The UK’s energy market is deeply integrated with that of its European neighbours, so the forthcoming referendum on its membership of the EU has major implications for energy and climate policy. In our new research paper, we examined five models of post-Brexit UK-EU relations, ranging from the ‘Norway’ and ‘Swiss’ models to free trade agreements such as Canada has negotiated, membership of the Energy Community and finally a ‘no deal’ option. Our conclusion is that while each option involves trade-offs for energy and climate policy, remaining inside the EU offers the best balance for Britain’s interests. We see three areas where this is particularly important: market integration, energy and climate diplomacy, and the costs and disruption caused by leaving.…  Seguir leyendo »

Europe is in the midst of a set of ambitious initiatives to transform its energy sector under the banner of building an ‘Energy Union’. The Energy Union provides a mechanism to manage the foreign policy dimensions of energy and climate issues.

However, the current EU approach to energy security and infrastructure focuses excessively on natural gas. As highlighted in a new paper, this ‘gas first’ approach risks crowding out other responses to the energy security challenge. It could result in the creation of stranded assets, if the future gas demand on which investments are predicated does not match projections. A narrow focus on new gas infrastructure could also impede development of other dimensions of the Energy Union.…  Seguir leyendo »

Compromise is the essence of the European Union; hard-fought, imperfect, sometimes ugly. Tuesday, European Council President Donald Tusk sketched the outline of a compromise on the British question which he will hope all EU countries can agree to at this month’s crunch summit.  In the best traditions of the EU, it is an artful bureaucratic agreement, deftly navigating many of the tensions in the negotiation through its brand of dense legalese.

The renegotiation strategy had two main aims: first, to allow Cameron to declare he has a new settlement which addresses the concerns of sceptics and second, to minimize splits within the Conservative party.…  Seguir leyendo »