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Photo of Emily Lydgate16 July 2019

Chloe Anthony, Ffion Thomas, and Dr Emily Lydgate – lecturer in Law at the University of Sussex and a fellow of the UK Trade Policy Observatory.

In May we published a blog analysing the EU Exit statutory instruments (SIs) on pesticides prepared under the EU Withdrawal Act 2018. One of the key concerns that we raised was that EU restrictions on pesticides with endocrine disrupting properties had been deleted. After this omission was identified, DEFRA responded very swiftly, clarifying that the deletion had been accidental and releasing a new Statutory Instrument (SI). (more…)

July 16th, 2019

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Image of Alan Winters03 July 2019

L. Alan Winters CB is Professor of Economics and Director of the Observatory.

Last week I was challenged twice for using the term ‘no deal’. There is no such thing, I was told, because, even if the UK does not ratify the Withdrawal Agreement of 25th November 2018, there will still be plenty of deals. At the time I thought, for several reasons, that this was wrong in substance if not literally, but more recently I have concluded that it is also dangerous.  Like we saw in the referendum campaign, it undermines informed debate by deliberately confusing the terminology.

‘The deal’ is an agreement between the EU and the UK ‘setting out the arrangements for its withdrawal, taking account of the framework for its future relationship with the Union’ (Article 50 – Treaty on European Union). ‘No deal’ is the absence of such a deal. For business and the economy, ‘no deal’ has come to mean the absence of a trade agreement under which the UK and the EU trade with each other on terms better than those provided for under the World Trade Organization. The former ‘no deal’ implies the latter – as I argue below – but the reverse is not true. (more…)

July 3rd, 2019

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Erika Szyszczak11 April 2019

Erika Szyszczak is Professor of Law at the University of Sussex and a fellow of UKTPO.

Tempting as it is to work through the lyrics of the Paul Simon song,* the latest round of Brexit talks between the UK and the EU are already translating into the movie: The Long Goodbye.

By a Decision adopted on 11 April 2019, the European Council – under the patient and saintly leadership of Donald Tusk – agreed to grant the UK a second extension to Article 50 TEU either until 31 October 2019, or, an earlier date (if the Withdrawal Agreement is ratified) or until 31 May 2019 if the UK fails to hold elections to the European Parliament. The UK has in fact put in place an Order to facilitate the organisation of the elections to the European Parliament. (more…)

April 12th, 2019

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Image of Alan Winters3 April 2019

Dr Michael Gasiorek is a Senior Lecturer in Economics at the University of Sussex and a fellow of the UK Trade Policy Observatory. L. Alan Winters CB is Professor of Economics and Director of the Observatory.

Understandably the politics surrounding the UK’s exit from the EU are dominating current discussions. But the economics of the options still matter, and it is not always evident how well the core economic issues are understood.

In the light of the Government’s ‘approach’ to Labour to find a consensus and in the light of the indicative votes, the aim of this blog is to clearly outline the economic issues and summarise the likely consequences associated with two of the current (indicative) options. (more…)

April 3rd, 2019

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11 February 2019

Alasdair Smith ian Emeritus Professor of Economics at the University of Sussex and is a member of the UK Trade Policy Observatory

Parliamentary discussions on Brexit seem to be making no progress towards a decision that can command a majority and the timetable for future Parliamentary votes is uncertain. The only result of last week’s discussion in Brussels was an agreement to hold further talks later this month, a jaw-droppingly relaxed timetable in the circumstances.

The Labour Party leadership has produced a statement with two objectives both of which are probably unattainable: a customs union with the EU in which the UK has a significant voice in the setting of EU trade policy, and a close relationship with the single market that falls short of membership. The Conservative Party is having internal discussions (with civil service support, a constitutional innovation) about the Malthouse Compromise, whose oxymoronic objectives are a new backstop that is not a backstop or an agreed withdrawal without a withdrawal agreement.

Out of this unpromising material, however, some outcome must emerge before March 29. (more…)

February 11th, 2019

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17 January 2019

Dr Peter Holmes, Reader in  Economics at the University of Sussex, Director of Interanalysis and Fellow of the UK Trade Policy Observatory

Since the Government’s defeat in the House of Commons, there has been a flurry of comments, notably from Steve Baker arguing that Mrs May’s deal can be replaced by some form of Free Trade Agreement.

One must immediately point out that the treaty basis of the Withdrawal Agreement does not include a long-term trade agreement. This can only be negotiated after Brexit. But even if it could be negotiated now, it would not solve the problem of the Irish Border. The UK and the EU in both the Good Friday Agreement and the Dec 2017 joint statement committed themselves not merely to barrier-free trade in goods with no hard border in Ireland, but to the preservation of an All-Island Economy. (more…)

January 17th, 2019

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Image of Alan Winters10 December 2018

L. Alan Winters CB, Professor of Economics and Director of the UK Trade Policy Observatory 

The Brexit Withdrawal Agreement and the Political Declaration are being presented as a means to end the uncertainty about the UK’s future relationship with Europe. But in an explainer for the ESRC’s UK in a Changing Europe, Professor L Alan Winters argues that this is not the case. Uncertainty will continue regardless of what happens to the Withdrawal Agreement.

Briefly, he argues that, if the Withdrawal Agreement is approved by Parliament and the EU:

  • The backstop it mandates requires a customs union between the UK and the EU and that most EU regulations for goods will apply in Northern Ireland. However, there is no regulatory alignment between the rest of the UK and the EU and so, if the backstop came into operation, there would be border formalities both in the Irish Sea and as UK goods entered the EU via any other route.
  • Negotiating a trade agreement with the EU will take a lot longer than the 21 months allowed for it in the Withdrawal Agreement, not least because every EU member state has a veto over trade agreements.
  • The Political Declaration that defines the parameters for that negotiation is imprecise in critical places and is, anyway, non-binding.

However, neither would rejecting the Withdrawal Agreement resolve the uncertainty. There is a wide range of possible outcomes all but one of which impose serious economic harm and/or require further negotiation. The option that involves least uncertainty and cost would be to remain within the EU; however, trying to achieve that outcome involves both significant political risks and the risk of ‘no deal’ if the attempt failed.

‘Through a glass, darkly’ is biblical – 1 Corinthians 13:12 – and is interpreted as meaning that we can see only imprecisely and via a mirror, but that, in the end, all will become clear. Seems about the best we can hope for.

Read the full article, What are the options for the UK’s trading relationship with the EU after Brexit?

December 10th, 2018

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Photo of Emily Lydgate21 November 2018

Dr Emily Lydgate is a lecturer in Law at the University of Sussex and a fellow of the UK Trade Policy Observatory.

Even if the draft Withdrawal Agreement is ultimately rejected, it provides more clarity on what the European Union (EU) and the United Kingdom (UK) want in future relationship negotiations. Notably, it has prompted the EU to develop its call for a ‘level playing field’ in the areas of environmental and labour standards, State Aid and competition policy into a set of binding commitments now agreed by the UK Government. This blog examines the requirements for environmental standards and regulation. The EU has already indicated that it will seek ‘Level Playing Field’ commitments in any agreement, including a ‘Canada-style’ deal. These environmental commitments will likely comprise a minimum standard that the EU will require in any negotiated future relationship. (more…)

November 21st, 2018

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16 November 2018

Alasdair Smith is an Emeritus Professor of Economics at the University of Sussex and is a member of the UK Trade Policy Observatory.

The UK Cabinet has signed off the draft EU Withdrawal Agreement (WA) and the Political Declaration (PD) about the future UK-EU trade relationship. The WA has had such a rocky reception in the Conservative Party that the future path of decision-making is a bit uncertain, but it is likely that these documents will also be agreed by the EU summit later this month. The decision-making then passes one way or another to the UK Parliament. Politics has dominated this week’s debates, but decisions need to be informed by economic assessment. Let’s consider the economic costs and benefits of the choices which Parliament will have to make.

(more…)

November 16th, 2018

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Image of Alasdair Smith11 June 2018

Alasdair Smith is an Emeritus Professor of Economics and Dr Peter Holmes is Reader in Economics at the University of Sussex. They are both Fellows of the UK Trade Policy Observatory.

On June 7, after prolonged internal discussion, the UK government published its paper proposing the extension to the whole UK of the ‘backstop’ provision in the EU draft withdrawal agreement to incorporate Northern Ireland (NI) into the EU’s customs territory until another solution can be found for the problem of the Irish border. The UK is unenthusiastic about the backstop and hopes it will not be needed, but wants any backstop to cover the whole UK, so as to avoid the need for border inspections of trade between NI and the rest of the UK (GB). Perhaps surprisingly, the government paper does not address the fact that the EU’s proposal is for NI to be included in a ‘common regulatory area’ as well as in a de facto customs union: any backstop needs to deal with regulation as well as customs. (more…)

June 11th, 2018

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