European ministers meeting in Brussels on Monday rubber-stamped the EU-27’s negotiating position for the Brexit period. The instructions for Michel Barnier, the block’s chief negotiator with Britain, set a deadline for December 31, 2020, for the end of the transition, but with the caveat that this period can last longer if necessary.
That’s highly problematic because the EU demands that Britain accepts all EU laws and the supremacy of the European Court of Justice during this transition. Britain must even abide by the EU’s trade policy. This means that while Britain can negotiate trade deals with other countries during the transition period, they can only come into force after Britain has officially left the EU.
In other words, European ministers have agreed to let Brussels dictate the law to Britain during the transition period. The Brits get little to nothing in return for it, except that after those 21 months, they could have their sovereignty back. Even that is not guaranteed, however, because if the EU thinks it necessary, the transition period can be prolonged.
This also means that new EU rules will have to be accepted by Britain during that period. Note that Britain will not have a say about the implementation and acceptance of those new laws. Brussels will be London’s master.
And so the EU is quickly becoming the Hotel California: You can check out any time you like. But you can never leave. Once you check out (submit your request to leave), Brussels will continue to dictate the law with you and establish a “transition” period (at the end of which you will actually leave) that can be prolonged indefinitely.
Time for Prime Minister Theresa May to take charge of the negotiations by telling the EU that a prolonged transition period is unacceptable. Britain will leave by 2020, whether the EU likes it or not. If May fails to do so, she’ll weaken her country’s negotiation position even further.