This too shall pass - why the EU has no choice but to grant the UK an extension

Author: Suzana Carp, Change UK, South East


The Brexit suspense continues, as journalists on both sides of the English channel are reminding us!

We are 3 days away from the new possible #BrexitDay (April 12th) and media outlet are keeping us informed about the British Prime Minister’s travels to Europe - but are we, really that close? And is the suspense really necessary?

Of course both media and politics are thriving on it but is it really fair to citizens?

The EU is sure to grant the UK an extension. There are two core reasons for that :

Firstly, the citizens' rights  issue has remained unresolved. The UK could have guaranteed the rights of EU27 citizens in the UK from the outset. The EU could also have guaranteed the rights of Britons in Europe. We now live with the ocnsequences of both sides having missed this opportunity.

Not granting an extension would have immediate and direct consequences on the rights of more than 5 million EU citizens (the total includes more than just those residing in other member states as there are many citizens whose work requires them to cross orders frequently).

A damaging backlash would very rapidly turn against negotiators on both sides of the channel just at the moment when European elections are approaching.

Mobile citizens across the EU would realise how vulnerable they are to political shocks.  They would fear they could be one day left out in the cold just for exercising Treaty rights and residing in another member state.

Would they continue to trust the current political set-up? 

Secondly, the EU level can’t and should not seek  to curtail democratic processes in any of its member states. The UK is still an EU member state but the EU is playing hawkish. It is trying to condition Thresa May to acccept their plan while showing no felxibility in return as the EU Member States have clearly indicated they are not willing to renegotiate the Withdrawal Agreement.

The British Parliament has consistently rejected all current options, and opinion polls indicate that popular support for Brexit is decreasing by the day.

So the EU is demanding that Theresa May lead on a project for which there appears not to be sufficient democratic backing. 

Can Theresa May promise any plan at this stage? After all, she has tried all options possible within the framework the EU has offered.

We watched the Prime Minister's address on Sunday evening: a Conservative-Labour compromise will be developed in order to secure sufficient support for the Withdrawal Agreemen.

The House of Commons will get to vote again  - but on the same plan as before! Counting on this passing at the fourth attempt can not be considered “a plan” from the EU's point of view, for it might well fail again.

Similarly, asking MPs to vote a fourth time but not giving UK citizens a chance to vote in a confirmatory referendum confirmation seems inconsistent and unfair.

Can the EU really enforce such a measure? Of course not.

So, by the looks of it, European Parliament elections will happen in the UK.

Would this be a good opportunity to hold a confirmatory referendum on Brexit as well?

Given that the EU is not willing to renegotiate the withdrawal agreement and the Houses of Parliament have not endorsed it, this would seem the only reasonable way forward.

It would also give clarity to all those in limbo, including the new MEPs from the UK.

What counts as a plan? Consulting the public, holding elections, aiming to minimise the period of uncertainty, guaranteeing rights.

 


Suzana Carp, Change UK, South East

About the Author

Suzana Carp, Change UK, South East

Suzana lives in Brussels where she leads on the EU engagement work of a London based climate policy think tank.

She holds an MSc in Migration Studies from the University of Oxford, awarded with Distinctions, a second Masters degree in European Studies from the College of Europe in Warsaw. She completed her University degree in the United States, where she specialised in political science and international affairs.

She worked on a number of migration related projects, including working on a project investigating migration in the media across different countries, completing a comprehensive study of refugee support across the EU, etc. Her interests cover also democratic theory, having founded the project Act 4 Democracy, which strives to offer education for democracy through theatre to youth from underprivileged backgrounds and remote areas.

 

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Suzana Carp, Change UK, South East

About the Author

Suzana Carp, Change UK, South East

Suzana lives in Brussels where she leads on the EU engagement work of a London based climate policy think tank.

She holds an MSc in Migration Studies from the University of Oxford, awarded with Distinctions, a second Masters degree in European Studies from the College of Europe in Warsaw. She completed her University degree in the United States, where she specialised in political science and international affairs.

She worked on a number of migration related projects, including working on a project investigating migration in the media across different countries, completing a comprehensive study of refugee support across the EU, etc. Her interests cover also democratic theory, having founded the project Act 4 Democracy, which strives to offer education for democracy through theatre to youth from underprivileged backgrounds and remote areas.

 

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