Task Force to Oversee Britain’s European Union Exit
On June 23, the citizens of Britain voted to separate from the European Union. As of this
week, Brussels has still not received formal notification from Britain of its intent to leave.
The weeks and months since the vote have primarily been devoted to dealing with the aftershock of an unexpected outcome, not the least of which is a change in Prime Ministers at 10 Downing Street.
Britain has indicated that the required two-year negotiation period prior to their departure would not begin until 2017—if then. But that has not stopped the EU from launching a task force designed to hasten the negotiations.
European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker announced that its team would be comprised of “the commission’s best and brightest,” and that they’ll be ready to get to work on October 1. The task force will be headed by Michel Barnier, a Frenchman who was head of EU financial legislation from 2010 to 2014.
What’s the Rush?
The impetus behind moving forward with the divorce involves more than spurned feelings. The objective is to quell any further investment uncertainty as to whether this is actually going to happen, and to set a timetable in place for all parties to prepare accordingly and coordinate all legal and financial issues.
There will be much to discuss: What will future trade relations look like? How much access will Britain have to the EU’s single market? Will new tariffs be put in place?
In addition, the need to present the British exit as an isolated incident remains vivid, as growing populism throughout Europe could threaten the EU’s very survival. Guy Verhofstadt, the European Parliament’s representative on Brexit matters, stressed the need to stop the politics of division and “seize this opportunity not to kill Europe…but to reinvent Europe.”
London – Not Yet Calling
New Prime Minister Theresa May, while reaffirming her country’s global outlook in a recent speech to the United Nations General Assembly, has not indicated any change of plans as a result of the task force formation. She stressed that Britain still needs more time to work out its negotiating position.
“The U.K. has always been an outward facing global partner, at the heart of international efforts to secure peace and prosperity for all our people,” said May. “And that is how we will remain.”
Former U.K. Independence Party leader Nigel Farage, one of the most outspoken voices in favor of Brexit, anticipates formal discussions not taking place until January.