Five years after the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union, Brexit continues to bring a tail. Boris Johnson’s 2019 election slogan “Get Brexit Done”, “Finish Brexit” got him to win his first UK elections and the British were able to leave at the end of January 2020. But is Brexit over?
“Brexit may be over but its consequences will keep us busy for years or even decades to come. “, believes the EPP MEP, David McAllister.
One of the reasons is the so-called Northern Ireland Protocol, part of the Brexit trade agreement that keeps the island of Ireland in the single market. Which translates into controls for many of the products that arrive from Great Britain.
To help supermarkets in the transition, a three-month grace period was agreed from the beginning of the year. However, the United Kingdom unilaterally decided to extend this period until October, something that was not liked in Brussels. And, for now, the problem remains unsolved. “We understand the difficulties in Northern Ireland. We are willing to be flexible, but if the UK continues with a policy of taking unilateral action without discussing this with the European Commission and the Republic [de Irlanda]. Then there will have to be a swift and firm retaliation from the European Union “, insiste McAllister.
Leaving the EU has also brought more controls and procedures for goods arriving on the continent. As a result, trade between the UK and the European Union has suffered. And as a German MEP assures, the damage is much less for the EU. “The export and import figures are clear; the financial damage is clear. Even financial services, Britain’s key economic interest, have been damaged. I think it’s very clear where the real damage is.”, details Bernd Lange, of S&D.
The rights of EU citizens have also been affected. As the freedom of movement between the two sides has come to an end, more and more people are turned away or detained upon arrival in the UK, something that Brussels believes needs to be fixed. “Let’s not create any more obstacles. Let’s make this relationship work. And this relationship is not only about commerce and business, it is about people who live on both sides of the canal, people with their families who hopefully can continue to live as well as possible despite the political decision “says McAllister.
Many in the UK will celebrate Brexit this week, but across the Channel the response will likely be weaker.