The British Government is invoking at the European Council today, Article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon, a way out of the community club that no one had taken before the British consultation. Despite the nine months of intensive preparation that both parties accumulate, the process is plagued by uncertainties.
Rights of citizens.
The group that the United Kingdom disparagingly calls European immigrants – the 3.3 million EU citizens living on its territory – and those whom they define most benevolently as expatriates – almost 1.2 million Britons on EU soil, one third of They in Spain – make up the most sensitive aspect of the negotiation. The impact of Brexit will fall on those more than four million citizens who have so far not had to fear for such basic issues as the right to health and public education in their places of residence.
This chapter threatens to condition the rest of the discussion. The European Commission has unofficially calculated that, when leaving the EU, the UK will have to pay around 60,000 million euros. This is not an invoice, they say in Brussels, but a set of outstanding accounts.
The figure includes three concepts:
- projects that are already committed but whose payments have not been allocated (long-term initiatives such as the launch of satellites)
- pension rights of European officials and
- guarantees on loans granted by the European Investment Bank.
Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has already warned London that it faces “a very expensive bill.” To avoid more friction than necessary, negotiators will try to agree on a method of calculation, rather than discussing the concrete figure. The technicians must then specify the sum.
The creation of new external borders in the EU will provoke territorial tensions, mainly in Northern Ireland and Gibraltar (the only two land borders that the United Kingdom will have with the EU block). In Ireland, the idea of creating walls between the autonomous republic and Northern Ireland (one of the four nations of the United Kingdom) fuels the fears of resurgence of enmity. The break with the EU raises uncertainty about the Good Friday Agreement, which in 1998 ended 30 years of violence and which is based on the membership of both parties to the EU. Northern Ireland also voted to stay in the EU (with a result of 55.8%).
From the first moment, agreeing on the way to negotiate will consume a not insignificant energy on both sides of the table. London displays the banner of so-called parallelism: negotiating both the divorce process and the future relationship with the EU. Brussels wants what it calls a sequence: first agree on divorce and, once closed that chapter, put together the future relationship.
For now, everything is uncertainty. That is the word: uncertainty.