UK accused of passing off No Deal Brexit impact as ‘collateral damage’ of Coronavirus

Christophe Hansen MEP, the European Parliament’s negotiator of the post-Brexit agreement, said, “it is a strategy that I have thus far thought too reckless to be real.”
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By Martin Banks

Martin Banks is a senior reporter at the Parliament Magazine

15 May 2020

Hansen’s comments come as the third round of negotiations on the EU-UK future partnership comes to a close.

This week’s talks are the penultimate round of discussions ahead of a July 1 deadline for a decision on whether the transition period will be extended beyond 31 December.

Voicing concern at the “lack of progress” Hansen said, "It takes two to tango. It is time for the UK to live up to the ambitious timetable. The clock is ticking even faster, while we are not seeing any signal from across the Channel of extending the transition period. Progress in the negotiations is not forthcoming,” said the international trade committee member.


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“The outstanding workload is colossal, especially as regards the level playing field, cooperation on security, the governance of the future partnership and fisheries.”

He attacked the UK for only now tabling its proposal on fisheries, saying, “I fail to see how this delay corresponds to the more-than-ambitious timetable imposed by the UK and to conclude and ratify an agreement on fisheries by 1 July.”

“The UK reluctance over the implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement and the Political Declaration does not bode well for the negotiations on the future partnership.”

“It is time for the UK to live up to the ambitious timetable. The clock is ticking even faster, while we are not seeing any signal from across the Channel of extending the transition period” Christophe Hansen MEP

“The true litmus test for the good faith of the UK remains the implementation of the WD so we need to see preparations start now, not only in December.”

He went on, “The lack of progress combined with the refusal to extend the transition period lends credit to the idea that the UK has chosen to pass off the impact of a no-deal Brexit as collateral damage of the pandemic - a strategy that I have thus far thought too reckless to be real.”

On last week’s start of trade negotiations between the UK and the US he said, "I wish the UK well in this but juggling several negotiations while dealing with the fall-out of a pandemic sounds ambitious. I hope that this won’t negatively impact the focus and resources the UK will be able to dedicate to the negotiations with its largest and closest market and neighbour.”

Meanwhile, a report by the Warsaw Institute, a think tank, said that the UK’s exit from the EU could have a “healing result.”

It will allow both France and Germany to “pursue more comprehensive defence policies of the EU – a move that was often blocked by the UK, which believed that NATO would be sufficient as European peacekeeper.”

Even so, the report concludes that a No Deal Brexit will adversely impact on EU defence, partly because many companies from across Europe buy or sell parts to various British companies.

“The UK reluctance over the implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement and the Political Declaration does not bode well for the negotiations on the future partnership” Christophe Hansen MEP

“In such case, a no-deal Brexit would mean price hikes and possible delays in European projects relying on British parts or know-how.”

These companies include industry giants like Airbus and products as “complex and important” for European security as the Eurofighter Typhoon.

The Institute states, “The expected crisis can be averted either by a free trade agreement or should this option not be possible, a bilateral trade agreement between UK and several if not all EU27 states abolishing tariffs and border checks.”

If such measures are not taken, many projects run by European companies may be hit with delays or even cancellations.

The “biggest downside” of the divorce will be less resources being available to make up the future peacekeeping and advisory operations run by the EU worldwide.

But the report warns, “The predicted consequences of Brexit for the British army and the UK’s defence sector are more harmful and long-lasting than those expected to be felt by the EU.”

“This will strip the UK from valuable training opportunities and will take away some of its international power-projection abilities. The UK will no longer be able to affect the policies as agreed upon as the part of the CSDP.”

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