Plans are afoot to strike mini-agreements in lieu of a full deal. Would it work?by Georgina Wright / August 17, 2018 / Leave a comment
Those hoping for summer respite from Brexit will be bitterly disappointed. Three months left to finalise the terms of the UK’s withdrawal and there is still no agreement in sight. There is also no guarantee that the final agreement—if one is reached—would make it through the UK parliament. The chances of extending Article 50 negotiations seem remote. Is it time to start planning for “no deal”?
The European Commission certainly thinks so. In recent months it has published around 60 sector-specific notices highlighting areas for immediate consideration, from new licensing requirements to data-sharing rules, many of which are not covered by WTO terms. The UK government is expected to do the same.
Some commentators have suggested that even if the UK and the EU27 failed to agree a full withdrawal deal, they would still prepare separate, time-limited agreements to fall back on. Their proposal is worth considering. The thinking runs that even if negotiations break down on one issue, mini-agreements could be struck elsewhere to minimise the chaos. It would be in effect “no-deal-lite.”
It’s an interesting thought. But even these steps cannot fully mitigate the risks of a “no deal.” They would also come at a price.
This is because it is not just a question of tariffs. Once the UK leaves the EU single market and customs union, it will no longer share a common regulatory space with the EU. At the moment British goods are considered EU goods: they meet a whole range of EU standards (from health to environment to production metho…