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THE AGREEMENT ON BREXIT reached at the European summit on November 25 now leaves the decision in the hands of the House of Commons. The parliaments of the other 27 states must also ratify it, but those votes are not theoretically uncertain or dramatic as the one that Theresa May announced before Christmas. It is “the only possible deal”, remarked Jean Claude-Juncker in his appearance together with Donald Tusk and Michel Barnier after the meeting of the European Council. This means that there will be no other, and that if the British Parliament rejects it, the total disconnection of the two banks of the Canal will be a fact on March 29, 2019 at 23:59 hours. It is a bit overwhelming to think about the consequences. The Economist does it in its issue this week: to begin with, it would be the end to 45 years of agreements between London and the continent, a time when Europe has ceased to be the existential threat it had always been, to become a narrow ally of the United Kingdom. The scenario of no deal would damage the international credibility of Britain, which would leave the EU without paying its obligations worth 44,000 million euros. It would renounce the union with a market of more than 500 million people in exchange for a precarious trade with tariffs. In the key of domestic politics, the disconnection without agreement would close the border of the two Irlandas and would be a difficult test for the Good Friday Agreement for London. The rupture “would affect daily life like nothing other than a war”.
The damages forecast is incomplete. It does not consider the potential impact on the other side of the Canal. The Union would also suffer the effects of a no deal Brexit. They would, especially, their regions most vulnerable because of their distance and their dependence on the outside. Europa Rup has done its own approach to calculation of damages.
Without the British contribution, and without the 44,000 million euros that the agreement of this Sunday assumes that London will pay to leave, it is inevitable that the European cohesion policy suffers. The Commission’s proposal on structural and investment funds for the 2021-2027 budgetary framework concerns the outermost regions, whose authorities see signs of stagnation or reduction in the resources of the specific program for agriculture in remote regions. The Conference of local leaders held in the Canary Islands on November 22 and 23 expresses this concern in the final declaration of the nine territories. A Brexit scenario without no deal would reduce the options of the outermost regions to negotiate the increase of funds for the next budget cycle.
The crossroads of Brexit now depends on the vote of the British MEPs. As the prime minister said this Sunday, November 25, it will be “one of the most important votes in many years”; also for Europe and its outermost regions.