According to information obtained by Irish state broadcaster, RTE, the EU is prepared to allow a longer Brexit transition period which will possibly see Britain remaining in the EU until after the agreed term of 2020.
New of this development was released today (Wednesday) and according to EU sources, a draft document which was shown to RTE has been drawn up indicating that there has been agreement on a longer transition period. The draft document will be added to the negotiation directives which be reviewed and ready to be updated if necessary.
The push for this signal to be included came during a meeting of EU ambassadors in Brussels in which the directives were drawn up and included in the minutes. The inclusion in the minutes are believed to be a signal to allow the EU to extend the transition period if required at short notice.
There will no doubt be mixed reaction especially from hardliners in the British government who are keen for the transition period to be as short as possible while the remain campaign will be looking at this development with with weary eyes as it will prolong the period of uncertainty. However some in the remain camp will possibly use this development to push for a second referendum- the longer Brexit is withheld, the greater the possibility for it to be overturned they will say.
The other main implication of a longer transition period will be the fact that Britain will remain the EU budget sphere. This could be a relief for those in charge of the next seven year EU budget who are in the process of finding a way to fill the gap of 12.5 billion due to Britain’s exit. The transition period, tagged the “standstill” arrangement will mean that the UK will abide by all rules of membership while losing a presence on ministerial councils and the input of representative MEP’s.
In her speech in Florence late last year, Prime Minister May stated that there may be a need to have a longer transition period. The question though, is the longer transition period a price to pay for the Eurosceptics to be guaranteed that Britain will eventually leave the EU, whatever the cost? One can only wait and see. Whatever the outcome over the next year or so, both sides on the Brexit divide will be gathering forces and settling in for trench warfare while the EU looks on in peacekeeping mode.
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