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#Brexit: The Empire Strikes Back

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May-walking-around-1024x298As Britain prepares to leave the European Union, the glorious memory of ‘Empire’ is back. You know, the one where the sun never set?

The Brexiteers’ pro-Empire narrative is simple, writes Shada Islam. Freed of the ‘shackles’ of the EU, Britain becomes a standalone, autonomous superpower, especially in trade. No more listening to instructions from Brussels; no more following stringent EU rules and regulations.

Just London and the Commonwealth: a love affair.

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Ah, the Commonwealth. Ministers in London wax lyrical about shared values, a common language, familiar institutions and similar legal and regulatory systems across the 52 member countries. An estimated 2.4 billion people looking back with great fondness at a time when Britain was the undisputed leader. Those were the days.

Only it didn’t quite happen that way. 13 March may have been Commonwealth Day and Brexit Britain may be basking in the golden glow of nostalgic nationalism. But for many of the Empire’s former citizens, the past wasn’t pretty.

Just ask Shashi Tharoor, an Indian MP, author of Inglorious Empire and former United Nations under-secretary-general.

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He noted recently: “There’s no real awareness of the atrocities, of the fact that Britain financed its Industrial Revolution and its prosperity from the depredations of Empire, the fact that Britain came to one of the richest countries in the world in the 18th century and reduced it, after two centuries of plunder, to one of the poorest.”

The new post-Brexit ‘Global Britain’ is going to be different. Once Article 50 is triggered and the Brexit divorce procedures start in earnest, Britain will be dealing with Commonwealth members as equals.

So why are some already branding British plans for stronger ties – including free trade agreements – with the Commonwealth as ‘Empire 2.0’?

To be fair, London is moving fast to consolidate hitherto fragile ties with the Commonwealth. The bloc’s trade, industry and investment ministers met in London last week to endorse an ambitious ‘Agenda for Growth’. A Commonwealth summit will be held just before Britain is expected to formally leave the EU in March 2019 with the aim of revitalizing and re-energizing the Commonwealth.

Trade is expected to be the centerpiece of the relationship, with London looking to its former Empire to replace lucrative EU markets it will lose after Brexit.

As US President Donald Trump thumbs his nose at free trade and fears of protectionism stalk the world, any effort to liberalize global trade is good news. Engaging with emerging markets is important.

But let’s lay to rest the Empire 2.0 myth that Commonwealth governments are desperate to clinch trade pacts with London. Or indeed that Britain will find it easier, simpler, smoother to negotiate free trade agreements with its Commonwealth friends than the EU does.

It just isn’t that simple. Shashi Tharoor is probably right: Britain’s offer of a free trade deal with India is more likely to go down like “a lead balloon”.

Trade negotiations are complicated affairs. Australia, New Zealand and India are focused on negotiating free trade pacts with the EU and can’t embark on formal talks with Britain until it has left the EU.

Many of the obstacles that have arisen in the EU’s trade talks with, say, India (which, among other things, wants easier rules on temporary migration of workers), are also likely to emerge in Britain’s trade negotiations.

Some African countries are tempted by trade agreements with Britain because the EU’s Economic Partnership Agreements (EPA) are proving so complicated to negotiate. But as the largest market in the world, the EU will continue to be important for African states.

It’s also worth noting that Britain sells more goods and services to the EU than it does to the Commonwealth. Once Britain leaves the EU, goods from many Asian and African countries will be subject to higher tariffs on the UK market.

Nostalgia about the Empire and the Commonwealth makes for good films and excellent television. But a walk down memory lane is no way to conduct business in the 21st century. Reviving the Commonwealth will not compensate for leaving the EU.

Brexit

Britain delays implementation of post-Brexit trade controls

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Britain said on Tuesday (14 Sseptember) it was delaying the implementation of some post-Brexit import controls, the second time they have been pushed back, citing pressures on businesses from the pandemic and global supply chain strain.

Britain left the European Union's single market at the end of last year but unlike Brussels which introduced border controls immediately, it staggered the introduction of import checks on goods such as food to give businesses time to adapt.

Having already delayed the introduction of checks by six months from April 1, the government has now pushed the need for full customs declarations and controls back to Jan. 1, 2022. Safety and security declarations will be required from July 1 next year.

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"We want businesses to focus on their recovery from the pandemic rather than have to deal with new requirements at the border, which is why we've set out a pragmatic new timetable for introducing full border controls," Brexit minister David Frost said.

"Businesses will now have more time to prepare for these controls which will be phased in throughout 2022."

Industry sources in the logistics and customs sector have also said the government's infrastructure was not ready to impose full checks.

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How the EU will help mitigate the impact of Brexit

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A €5 billion EU fund will support people, companies and countries affected by the UK's withdrawal from the Union, EU affairs.

The end of the Brexit transition period, on 31 December 2020, marked the end of the free movement of people, goods, services and capital between the EU and the UK, with adverse social and economic consequences for people, businesses and public administrations on both sides.

To help Europeans adapt to the changes, in July 2020 EU leaders agreed to create the Brexit Adjustment Reserve, a €5bn fund (in 2018 prices) to be paid until 2025. EU countries will start receiving the resources by December, following Parliament’s approval. MEPs are expected to vote on the fund during the September plenary session.

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How much will go to my country?

The fund will help all EU countries, but the plan is for the countries and sectors worst affected by Brexit to receive the most support. Ireland tops the list, followed by the Netherlands, France, Germany and Belgium.

Three factors are taken into account to determine the amount for each country: the importance of trade with the UK, the value of fish caught in the UK exclusive economic zone and the size of population living in EU maritime regions closest to the UK.

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Infographic explaining the Brexit Adjustment Reserve
Infographic showing how much support individual EU countries will receive from the Brexit Adjustment Reserve  

What can be financed by the fund?

Only measures specifically set up to counter the negative consequences of the UK’s departure from the EU will be eligible for funding. These may include:

  • Investment in job creation, including short-term work programmes, re-skilling and training
  • Reintegration of EU citizens who have left the UK as a result of Brexit
  • Support for businesses (especially SMEs), self-employed people and local communities
  • Building customs facilities and ensuring the functioning of border, phytosanitary and security controls
  • Certification and licensing schemes

The fund will cover expenditure incurred between 1 January 2020 and 31 December 2023.

Fisheries and banking sectors

National governments are free to decide how much money goes to each area. However, countries that depend significantly on fisheries in the UK exclusive economic zone must commit a minimum amount of their national allocation to small-scale coastal fisheries, as well as local and regional communities dependent on fishing activities.

The financial and banking sectors, which may benefit from Brexit, are excluded.

Find out more 

Continue Reading

Brexit

How the EU will help mitigate the impact of Brexit

Published

on

A €5 billion EU fund will support people, companies and countries affected by the UK's withdrawal from the Union, EU affairs.

The end of the Brexit transition period, on 30 December 2020, marked the end of the free movement of people, goods, services and capital between the EU and the UK, with adverse social and economic consequences for people, businesses and public administrations on both sides.

To help Europeans adapt to the changes, in July 2020 EU leaders agreed to create the Brexit Adjustment Reserve, a €5 billion fund (in 2018 prices) to be paid until 2025. EU countries will start receiving the resources by December, following Parliament’s approval. MEPs are expected to vote on the fund during the September plenary session.

Advertisement

How much will go to my country?

The fund will help all EU countries, but the plan is for the countries and sectors worst affected by Brexit to receive the most support. Ireland tops the list, followed by the Netherlands, France, Germany and Belgium.

Three factors are taken into account to determine the amount for each country: the importance of trade with the UK, the value of fish caught in the UK exclusive economic zone and the size of population living in EU maritime regions closest to the UK.

Advertisement
Infographic explaining the Brexit Adjustment Reserve
Infographic showing how much support individual EU countries will receive from the Brexit Adjustment Reserve  

What can be financed by the fund?

Only measures specifically set up to counter the negative consequences of the UK’s departure from the EU will be eligible for funding. These may include:

  • Investment in job creation, including short-term work programmes, re-skilling and training
  • Reintegration of EU citizens who have left the UK as a result of Brexit
  • Support for businesses (especially SMEs), self-employed people and local communities
  • Building customs facilities and ensuring the functioning of border, phytosanitary and security controls
  • Certification and licensing schemes


The fund will cover expenditure incurred between 1 January 2020 and 31 December 2023.

Fisheries and banking sectors

National governments are free to decide how much money goes to each area. However, countries that depend significantly on fisheries in the UK exclusive economic zone must commit a minimum amount of their national allocation to small-scale coastal fisheries, as well as local and regional communities dependent on fishing activities.

The financial and banking sectors, which may benefit from Brexit, are excluded.

Find out more 

Continue Reading
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