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22 September 2017

Reflecting on the detailed content of PM May’s Florence speech: 553 days until we go over the cliff

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May's speech was long on the desire for creative visions on the part of EU27 leaders but short on why they should divert from the visions they set out to achieve for themselves on the 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome.

They are increasingly clear where they want to go – and the German election on Sunday – may cement the roadmap.

What exactly is it that Britain is proposing that will make life so much better for `them’ that they might wish to change course? Nine months after the “Lancaster House” speech, still not a word about practical details… just calls for a brave new unspecified world. Moreover, the calls for a new type of partnership on economics and security seem to fail to recognise the length of time that such negotiations take:

·         On the EU side, such a profound Treaty might require an Intergovernmental Conference to prepare the ground – two years

·         Formal negotiations – another two years??

·         Unanimous ratification by all EU27 states and probably by many sub-national bodies –, especially if some countries decide on referenda – two years at least

·         Converting lofty Treaty language into precise changes to the texts of EU Directives and Regulations so that all economic actors know exactly what they can/cannot do:  

o   Consultations by Commission with stakeholders (as part of Better Regulation Agenda) – one year

o   Commission prepares vast numbers of legislative text changes – a year?

o   Council and Parliament (as co-legislators) agree the exact text – another year?

o   Implementation phase to allow national laws to be changed – usually two years.

·         Grand total: 11 years (NOTE: EU and Canadian leaders agreed to a new trade framework in 2004 and it has just come into force … 13 years later)

So UK business – in relation to its EU trade – goes over the cliff in 553 days. Or is it 553 days + 2 years of Implementation Period.  Eleven (or nine?) years later, the detailed legislation that enables them to trade in the EU will be in force. What happens in the interim? 

© Graham Bishop

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