Three-step Brexit strategy must be negotiated, urges think tank

The Court of Justice of the European Communities
Kate Ferguson, Press Association

BRITAIN should negotiate a "three-step Brexit" in which a lengthy transitional period would allow the country to strike the best long-term deal for leaving the EU, a new report says.

The report, published by the think-tank Open Europe, warns the referendum result shows the free movement of people must be curbed and Britain's EU membership fee scrapped.

But it says that while the primacy of EU law must end, the substance of much of it should be retained, and that Scotland and possibly Northern Ireland will need a closer relationship with the EU.

As the new government begins the arduous task of working out its Brexit strategy, the report, entitled Getting Out Quick and Playing the Long Game, sketches out a vision for how the UK should leave the EU.

It argues for a three-step strategy, which would see the UK leave towards the end of 2018 and strike up a transitional deal that could last until 2024.

The authors Damian Chalmers, an LSE professor of EU law, and Anand Menon, professor of European Politics and Foreign Affairs at Kings College London, say this would create "the time and space needed to more coolly and calmly negotiate a long-term agreement".

Outlining their vision, the report states: "An amicable solution, acceptable to all, would represent the best of all worlds at this febrile moment in European history.

"For one thing, the risks of a disorderly Brexit – with no deal on future arrangements, and conceivably no agreement on how to tie up loose ends – would be damaging for all."

It warns a disorderly Brexit would hit the British economy and could damage growth in the EU, which already faces being "overwhelmed" by the twin crises of the influx of migrants and potential for further problems in the Eurozone.

The report says: "What is needed to chart a long-term future for the UK's relationship with the EU is calm, sober reflection, not knee-jerk reactions with half an eye on domestic public opinion."

It argues that free movement "cannot continue in its current form" and ministers should consider only granting residence to those with a full-time job offer and setting a new income threshold for those seeking to bring their families to the UK.

It says parliamentary sovereignty should be restored and UK should no longer be subject to the formal force of the EU Court of Justice's judgments.

Instead, EU law should be transposed into British law and a "petitions committee" should hold hearings on whether an EU law should be repealed or amended on the basis of a petition from a certain number of British citizens or companies.

EU states would be able to make representations to Parliament about the impacts of any law, and a joint UK-EU commission should be established to assess when EU countermeasures would be appropriate if British laws departed from EU law.

It also says British organisations should continue to receive EU grants but UK formal contributions to the EU budget should be scrapped and, if necessary, replaced by direct UK bilateral support to poorer EU member states.

And it stresses that Scotland and possibly Northern Ireland "will need a closer relationship with the EU than other parts of the UK".

This could involve keeping EU law in place in Scotland, including free movement of people, in return for participation in the work of the Committee of Permanent Representatives in Brussels, the report states.


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