Brexit: The EU Outmaneuvered The UK

Written by Econintersect Guest

-- this post authored by Alexander Atanasov, Foreign Policy in Focus

The Brexit Trade Treaty: What Was Really Negotiated?

The United Kingdom has failed to sign a beneficial new trade agreement with the European Union. The future trade and political relations between the two sides will not serve any of the goals of the UK that are either rational or that fulfill the populist policies that exiting the EU was supposed to achieve. The European Union just outmaneuvered an inexperienced British team.


The leading negotiator on the European side was Michel Barnier, a seasoned treaty negotiator who understands well the intricacies of the functioning of the European market. The UK’s position was dictated by the populist prime minister Boris Johnson, a relentless critic of the European Court of Justice, which according to him, created massive red tape. The British team hadn’t negotiated a trade agreement since joining the EU back in the 1970s. As a result, their chief negotiator David Frost was quite inexperienced.

EU’s Chief Brexit Negotiator Michel Barnier walks from his hotel to the the 1 Victoria Street to attend the new round of trade talks in London. (Shutterstock)

The outcome of the treaty negotiations was predictable, given the inequality of bargaining power between the biggest free market zone in the world and a nation of only 66 million people.

Bye-Bye Red Tape?

To protect its economic interests, the UK government should have had two objectives: guarantee the real ability of British goods to enter the European market and make sure that the city of London remains the biggest service provider in the vicinity of the European continent. In reality, the British team had the goal of protecting an imaginary UK sovereignty, to “take back control," their version of the slogan “to make Britain great again."

The EU’s prime objective was to protect the EU internal market. The loss of Britain as a large contributing partner had been already happened four years ago with the Brexit vote. The second objective then was damage control - to minimize the impact of Brexit on the economies of the EU member states.

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This article first appeared on Foreign Policy in Focus 30 December ...

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