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Roch Dunin-Wąsowicz

Ros Taylor

April 17th, 2020

17 April update: We don’t want no extension

8 comments | 6 shares

Estimated reading time: 10 minutes

Roch Dunin-Wąsowicz

Ros Taylor

April 17th, 2020

17 April update: We don’t want no extension

8 comments | 6 shares

Estimated reading time: 10 minutes

Lockdown and Easter combined to quell talk of Brexit – but not for long. With Michel Barnier back at work, post-Brexit negotiations are to resume next week. But can the transition talks really be concluded by the end of 2020? Roch Dunin-Wąsowicz and Ros Taylor (LSE) round up the latest developments. 

It’s official: the next tranche of transition talks will begin via video call next Wednesday, with further sessions scheduled in following months. EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier has fully recovered from coronavirus. There is, however, little clarity about what they will cover. The political will exists to carry out the negotiations, but the technical side of things isn’t going too smoothly:

Fisheries appear to be off the menu for the time being:

Still, many think the coronavirus crisis may allow a more moderate compromise to be reached and that an extension is quite likely in the end. (According to Denis McShane, coronavirus may become Boris Johnson’s ‘get out of jail’ card on Brexit.) The problem is that such an extension needs to be agreed by 1 July – including an interim financial settlement – and that it will be Britain’s last opportunity to extend.

‘The EU is ready to engage; it is time for the UK, even in private, to do the same,’ says Georgina Wright at the Institute for Government.

Nonetheless, the official line as of 16 April is that Britain will not ask for an extension, and if the EU asks for one, the UK won’t grant it. Furthermore, the government says that it needs to be free of EU rules in order to co-ordinate the coronavirus response.

Other developments

Scotland’s ruling party might be changing its attitude to how to navigate its relations inside the UK, and with the EU, as a result of this extraordinary crisis. At the same time, the question of Scottish independence remains firmly on the long-term agenda.

Germany has only one priority right now and that is dealing with the pandemic. John Ryan (LSE) writes that while some may fear that a British withdrawal from the EU could turn Germany into a hegemon, Brexit actually has complicated and isolated Germany’s role in the EU.

The latest stats are out on applications to the EU Settlement Scheme, with unsurprisingly a big drop.

Our pick of the commentary

POLITICO considers that amid the pandemic EU nations, despite their pledge to an ever-closer union, reacted selfishly and chaotically once the threat became evident”.

The pandemic and Brexit will combine to increase the cost of food. Martine Barons looks at the health effects of food price inflation. TL;DR: it makes people fatter and sicker.

Reuters notes that in the initial phase of the COVID-19 crisis, the UK’s response to the pandemic may have been driven by Brexit considerations: “Between February 13 and March 30, Britain missed a total of eight conference calls or meetings about the coronavirus between EU heads of state or health ministers – meetings that Britain was still entitled to join.”

The COVID-19 crisis has changed the rhetoric on migrants’ contributions to UK society. Alexandra Bulat argues, however, that soundbites won’t help migrants – only real policy change will.

Soundbites won’t help migrants – policy change will

And on that topic – a planeload of Romanians are arriving at Stansted shortly to pick fruit, as not enough British workers applied despite the rise in unemployment.

This post represents the views of the author and not those of the Brexit blog, nor LSE.

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About the author

Roch Dunin-Wąsowicz

Dr Roch Dunin-Wąsowicz (@RochDW) is a researcher at the LSE Conflict and Civil Society Research Unit. He is Managing Editor of LSE Brexit 2020.

Ros Taylor

Ros Taylor is co-editor of LSE Brexit.

Posted In: #LSEThinks | Coronavirus | Exit negotiations | Featured

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