EU & Brexit

British foreign policy after Brexit: An independent voice.

“I do not want a world in which there is not an independent British voice.”
Henry Kissinger

David Owen & David Ludlow
13 July 2017, £12.99, Paperback
Biteback Publishing

Buy the book here: British foreign policy after Brexit

Access documents referenced in the book here:

An Interpretation of the European Economic Area Agreement, EEAA.

Extracts from Vienna Convention on Succession of States in respect of Treaties

Publisher’s preview:

At a time of alarming global instability, amid shocking terrorist attacks in Europe and mounting tensions between the USA and North Korea, a clear and focused foreign and defence policy is ever more critical. Now that UK’s departure from the EU is underway, what happens next?

Against this unpredictable geopolitical backdrop, Britain’s position in the world needs to be recalibrated to take account of a range of new realities. Now is the time to move forward, to define a positive, outward looking, role in this post-Brexit world.

British Foreign Policy after Brexit examines what lies ahead, encompassing a diplomatic, security, development and trade agenda based on hard-headed realism. Former Foreign Secretary David Owen and former diplomat David Ludlow, who backed opposite sides in the referendum, together argue that Britain’s global role and influence can be enhanced, rather than diminished, post-Brexit.

 

Amazon preview:

British Foreign Policy after Brexit by David Owen and David Ludlow is, perhaps surprisingly, a book written by two people from different generations who voted on opposite sides in the 2016 referendum. One a politician, the other a former diplomat, they both have significant business experience in world markets.

The authors demonstrate how Britain’s global role and influence can be enhanced rather than diminished post-Brexit, with a diplomatic, security, development and trade agenda based on hard-headed realism, including a review of budgetary priorities.

As a firmly European country, they see the UK as a key player with Germany and France in the wider Europe, and a leader in security issues threatening the continent’s stability. They do not regard the relationship with Moscow as inevitably confrontational, but believe strengthening NATO is essential and a top priority to contain Russia.

In the wider world, a reinvigorated UK US relationship will be critical, but must accommodate differences in some core areas, e.g. in dealing with China. Furthermore, they see the UK’s new aircraft carrier at the heart of a UN Rapid Reaction Force drawn mainly from Commonwealth countries, including Australia, Canada, India and New Zealand, and supporting operations around the globe.

Buy the book here: British foreign policy after Brexit

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“…the existing machinery that we could most easily adopt is to remain a contracting party to the European Economic Area agreement, as a non-EU contributing member.”

Lord Owen, addressing the House of Lords Debate on the Queen’s Speech, Wednesday 28 June 2017.

Read Lord Owen’s full speech here: QueensSpeech28Jun17

Excerpts: “…Everybody accepts now – the term is ‘implementation period’ – that when we leave the EU, there will have to be a vehicle by which we continue the negotiations. It cannot be Article 50. I believe, and have made clear my view to the Government privately for many months, that the existing machinery that we could most easily adopt is to remain a contracting party to the European Economic Area agreement, as a non-EU contributing member. That is a framework which they and we know – we have been in that same framework ourselves.

….

“I hope that… that the EU negotiators will see the value of the country and the world knowing, as soon as humanly possible, where we will be for the next four to five years—first in the Article 50 process and then in the EEA. That at least provides a structure to weld together our disagreements and agreements in the interests of Article 8.

“We should remember that there is not just Article 50; there is Article 8 in the treaties, which is about good neighbourliness.”

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Courage, Mrs May: minority rule can work.

Opinion piece in the Daily Telegraph, 22 June 2017.

“Jim Callaghan guided his restless party through choppy political waters and this PM can do so too.”

“Minority government is a grind, with the Whips’ Office becoming more important that the great offices of state. From February 1974 to May 1979, I saw the inner workings of the last minority administration to survive more than a few months. Few of us Labour MPs thought it would last as long as it did. The lesson is that voters expect Parliament to live with the result they voted for.

…“In Callaghan’s case., once he had taken over from Wilson, the office of minority PM made the man. He liked negotiations. He was good at them. He held his core group of ministers together with consummate skill showing great respect to different factions. While Theresa May has not shown such diplomacy in the past, no-one should underestimate her resilience.”

“…her task is difficult. But if she can build a new spirit of cooperation it is possible that this parliament will deliver exit from the EU as the first stage. It may be the next parliament delivers the second stage – namely as a party to the European Economic Area while we negotiate the detailed implementation of an EU-UK trade agreement.”…

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Germany’s ‘soft Brexit’ suggestion is not as favourable to the UK as being a non-EU contracting partner to the European Economic Area Agreement (EEAA).

Letter to The Times, June 20 2017.

‘Soft’ Brexit plan

Sir, Further to your report “Germany offers soft Brexit amid worries about coup at No 10” (June 19), the German suggestion is well meant but is not as favourable to the UK as being a non-EU contracting partner to the European Economic Area Agreement (EEAA) as we negotiate an EU-UK trade agreement. The proposed court would be joint EU-UK, ie. it would retain a direct EU influence. In contrast, the EEA agreement’s “Efta” court is a fully independent court whose judges come only from non-EU members.

The contracting parties to the EEAA formally agreed in 2007 that the “Efta” court can differ significantly from the European Court of Justice in its interpretation of the implications of the free movement of persons directive. This highly advantageous (to the UK) agreement could easily be lost in a bespoke negotiation. Bundling the single market and customs union, as in the EU treaties, contrast unfavourably with the EEAA which rightly keeps them rigidly unbundled. Norway and Iceland do not have customs union arrangements with the EU. Lichtenstein is part of a customs union, but that is with Switzerland. The EEAA also allows the UK to run its own agriculture and fishing policy.

The primary aim of the EEAA is commercial and for open trading, whereas the primary aim of the EU customs union is protectionist.

LORD OWEN

House of Lords

 

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Lord Owen speaks out again on a different interpretation of the EEA Agreement.

Paper presented to the Global Strategy Forum and Political Economy of Financial Markets, St Antony’s College, Oxford.
Wednesday 14 June 2017.
Lord Owen speaks out again on a different interpretation of the EEA Agreement. He considers why it could be used for the implementation period, the period the Prime Minister has discussed covering the transition from EU in March 2019 to the completion of a EU-UK trade agreement, avoiding any cliff-edge or political uncertainty.
Read Lord Owen’s paper: The Brexit process UNDER EMBARGO UNTIL NOON ON 14 JUNE 2017
Read a more detailed paper on Lord Owen’s interpretation of the EEA Agreement: DOonEEAAinterpretation
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Brexit: An amicable divorce? (Q+A)

The Question + Answer session following Lord Owen’s speech to the University of Oxford International Relations Society, Wednesday 17 May 2017.

View the Q+A session (approx 26 mins), courtesy Voices from Oxford.

Issues touched on include:

  • The importance of accepting the result of the Brexit referendum
  • Issues within the Labour party
  • Post-Brexit challenges around offshore territories and fisheries, the risks of a ‘cliff edge’ in negotatitons and the need to be prepared to use international treaty laws
  • How issues around the ERM showed the necessity of having a bottom line “when things are fundamentally wrong”
  • Issues of citizenship post-Brexit.

View or read Lord Owen’s speech preceding this Q+A.

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Brexit: An amicable divorce? (Speech)

Lord David Owen’s speech to the University of Oxford International Relations Society, Wednesday 17 May 2017.

View Lord Owen’s speech (approx 45 mins), courtesy of Voices from Oxford.

 

Read the speech: Brexit- An amicable divorce?

Extract: 

My main message is Brexit does not belong to the Conservative Party. It belongs to us all whether in different parties or people who voted Leave or Remain in the referendum.

I hope today to dispel some myths and establish some facts about the European Economic Area Agreement, EEAA and why it is a potential vehicle for the ‘implementation period’ that should follow exiting the EU and which we will leave once we have an EU/UK trade agreement or conclude the EU is too dysfunctional to offer an agreement of mutual advantage.

What this existing EEAA transitional mechanism provides is a framework which we leave when we want to after having left the EU after two years with a further three years maximum for agreeing a trade agreement. There is no cliff edge. No point where we negotiate in good faith and find the design of Article 50 precipitates a crisis choice ‘accept or chaos’ under this existing legal structure. David Cameron told the country before the referendum that we would invoke Article 50 while ignoring the fact that it is designed in a way that is a deterrent to leaving because of its in-built cliff edge. The design is deliberate so that in some circumstances we could be left with a ‘take it’ or ‘leave it’ offer with little time to adapt.

It was not foolish for the government to say that faced by a bad offer from the EU, which we are not allowed to change, we would leave. It would have been irresponsible to declare any other position. But it would also be irresponsible not to assert our right to remain a Contracting Party to the EEAA after we have left the EU, and if necessary to exercise our right to use the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, VCLT, dispute procedure to establish in law that right.

The EEA Agreement is binding upon the Contracting Parties, one of which is the UK. It is a multilateral international treaty. It is not a bilateral agreement between the EU and EFTA as is sometimes supposed. Decision-making autonomy in respect of treaties is, of course, constrained for EU Member States, but by the EC/EU Treaties, not by the EEAA.

NEU states, as the UK will be after leaving in March 2019, retain their unconstrained treaty-making powers outside the ECJ: a major difference between the entailments of the EC/EU Treaties and of the EEAA.

Read Lord Owen’s full speech here: Brexit- An amicable divorce?

View the Q+A session following the speech

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A flexible full-exit timetable, under UK control.

From an LiamHalligan7.5.17
The Telegraph Business, 7 May 2017

 … Amid breathless accounts of the Downing Street dinner last week… Juncker’s spin was presented as the only possible version of events, proof the Government’s Brexit plan is “unrealistic” and “deeply flawed”…
Even if the Brexit talks go well, though, the UK government feels “an implementation period” will be required after March 2019, when the Article 50 window closes and we formally leave. This, too, is in the white paper and will be in the manifesto. To that end… I had an interesting conversation last week with the former Foreign Secretary Lord Owen – an influential Brexiteer who remains one of the shrewdest political analysts around.
Some pushing for “soft Brexit” want Britain, having left the EU, to remain inside the European Economic Area. This “Norwegian option” means on-going single market membership. But it also means accepting continued multi-billion pound annual payments and the EU’s freedom of movement rules. As such, EEA membership isn’t Brexit. Lord Owen agrees with me that EEA, as a final destination, would betray our referendum result. He thinks, though, the EEA membership could be useful during the “implementation period”.
Should the Article 50 negotiations get really nasty, with the EU refusing cooperation on customs clearance and the “mutual recognition agreements” that facilitate trade, UK exporters could face disruption in March 2019. Staying in the EEA for a period, and by extension the single market, would avoid that. Once we’re in the EEA but outside the EU, Lord Owen says, the EEA treaty contains a vital clause that allows us to leave at a time of our own choosing, albeit with a year’s notice.

This avoids any “cliff edge” business nervousness that, Lord Owen fears, could become significant if diplomatic relations sour. Some Brexiteers will view even the transitory use of the EEA option with suspicion. Lord Owen’s scheme may also fall down on legal grounds, as some say retaining EEA membership come March 2019 is impossible. This idea may be worth exploring, though, using the EEA on a strictly time-limited basis, to give Britain what Lord Owen calls “a flexible full-exit timetable, under UK control”.

Access the full  article here: Negotiation over dinner leaves a bad taste

Return to Lord Owen’s EEAA paper here

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