The Brexit talks in the previous year was nothing short of a rollercoaster ride with phase two of the Brexit talks widely seen to be significantly more difficult than the phase one agreement that was approved on December 15. The agreement managed to keep the talks going but is also concealing the fact that two sides involved in the talks don’t see eye to eye on the timeline and outlook of the next phase. Until phase two begins, issues such as the Irish border and solutions to possible disputes that will pop up over the withdrawal agreement will be put on hold.
Ministers in the United Kingdom want a “substantive trade deal” by October and an agreement to be struck in March of 2019 but admit that a “heads of agreement” is their best hope when the time they exit comes. The chief negotiator for the European Union, Michel Barnier, hinted that the real trade negotiations will only begin after then.
The 27 countries in the European Union have only agreed to preliminary partnership talks in the future. They will not give out guidelines of negotiations until March, leaving a period of 7 months before the deadline in October.
The 27 countries are looking for a “close partnership” instead of May’s “deep and special one” and has shown their exasperation over Britain’s vagueness on the issue. Until Britain clears out what they want, the 27 countries will choose to also keep things unclear.
Once the UK departs from the EU in March 2019, formal trade negotiations can begin. The UK is confident that they can start of with something since both them and EU are already on the same page about regulatory standards unlike the Canada/EU talks that lasted for seven years before coming into an agreement. However, insiders in Brussels think that the United Kingdom is underrating just how big of a task this is with some predicting that a full agreement on trade deals will take five years to be reached.
The October deadline is more of a target than it is a deadline as it could easily be missed if the talks take longer than expected. If the December 15 summit is anything to go by, then it just shows that EU deadlines aren’t always followed through a hundred percent of the time.
The transitional deal, which is part of the withdrawal agreement, should be simple as it typically maintains the status quo with some changes to let the United Kingdom claim that it has withdrawn from the single market and customs union in 2019. But there might be some kinks to work out. Tory Brexiteers wish to have the UK be allowed to bar any rules that are no its interests although the European Union will most likely not budge.
The first phase of the talks had the EU making most of the demands over the structure and the result of the negotiations but with the second phase of the talks they may have a shot as the 27 EU countries may have different concerns regarding trade. Due to the 27 EU countries being one in its pursuit for an appropriate financial settlement and deal on the rights of citizens, UK’s effort to “divide and rule” was thwarted.