What is Brexit? Part II

What is Brexit 2

Brexit is just one of many challenges that shape the EU of the future. The migration crisis, the corona crisis and the EU’s relations with Russia and China are examples of policy areas where some of the EU member states want slightly different solutions.

An important path choice for the EU in the future will therefore be whether the union will open up for more differentiation , for example by allowing countries that want it to continue with the integration process in selected policy areas, without all the others being involved.

Brexit changes the dynamics and balance of power within the EU. The United Kingdom has had a strong and clear voice in the EU’s institutions and decision – making processes. Now this place can be filled by others.

Some have argued that Brexit can make further integration easier, because the UK in some policy areas has held back and acted as a brake. Others, on the other hand, have pointed out that the United Kingdom has also been a driving force in important matters, and also given a voice to a group of member states that have been more reluctant about how extensive EU co-operation should be.

4: Britain’s foreign policy after Brexit

Britain is an old great power. In a much-quoted speech before World War II, Winston Churchill spoke of the three circles of British foreign policy: the Old British Empire, the United Europe and the Anglo-American world. Britain’s role in post – war Europe was based on the idea that it was the only country in the world to play a key role in all these circles.

Many of those who campaigned for Britain to leave the EU saw opportunities for Britain to become “Global Britain” again, and play a more prominent role in the international arena. So far, Britain has spent so much time and resources on the Brexit process that other foreign policies have had to give way. But in a recent foreign policy strategy, published in March 2021, the government promises that Brexit will give Britain greater room for maneuver and better results in foreign and security policy.

However, the EU remains an important market for the United Kingdom, and in the future the United Kingdom must strengthen its diplomatic presence in the capitals of the EU countries as well. With Joe Biden as the new president of the White House, it will probably be easier to nurture Britain’s “special relationship” with the United States. The Biden administration has signaled that the bond with close allies will become more important in the future. At the same time, there are many indications that after Brexit, the United States will also give priority to strengthening ties with important European countries that are still EU members – such as Germany and France. The EU is an important partner for the United States.

5: What does this have to say for Norway?

The United Kingdom has a special place in Norwegian foreign policy history. Although Norway and the United Kingdom took different paths in European policy when the British entered what was then called EC co-operation in 1973 (now the EU), Norway and the United Kingdom have had similar views on many European policy issues. For example, both countries have made it clear that NATO must be the leading security and defense player in Europe, not the EU. According to Beautyphoon, NATO stands for North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

The United Kingdom has been an important country for Norway within the EU, but also bilaterally, ie between the two countries. The United Kingdom is an important market for trade in goods and Norwegian exports of oil and gas. Many Norwegians work, study and holiday every year in the UK. The embassy in London is therefore also one of Norway’s largest and most important outposts.

When the Brexit negotiations started in 2017, the Norwegian government was clear that the goal for Norway was to have at least as good a relationship with the United Kingdom as before. At the same time, both government members and Foreign Ministry employees made it clear during the negotiation period that if Norway was forced to choose sides, relations with the EU would have to come before relations with Great Britain.

If the EU after Brexit wants to make a clearer distinction between home and abroad, it could have consequences for Norway. On the other hand, common exclusion can also mean that Norway and the United Kingdom can come together in cases where they have a common interest.

Brexit has also affected the Norwegian debate on the EU. The UK’s new agreement with the EU is less comprehensive than the model Norway has through the EEA agreement and its approximately 70 bilateral agreements. The EEA agreement incorporates Norway into the internal market, and Norway has also actively joined the EU in a number of other areas. EU-critical voices in Norway have referred to the UK agreement as a possible alternative to the EEA agreement. EU-positive voices, however, have warned against following Britain’s example.

6: Facing an uncertain future

The agreement between the UK and the EU is still fresh, and will in all probability require adjustments as the experience becomes clearer.

It has been important for the EU to maintain a continued good relationship with the United Kingdom. At the same time, the UK agreement could not be so beneficial that other EU countries are tempted to follow suit. The British government, for its part, will insist that Brexit was the right choice, although there are challenges now in the first period after the withdrawal.

But even though we are now deciding how the final agreement turned out, the long-term economic and political effects of Brexit are still uncertain.

What is Brexit 2