The European Commission is debating whether or not to extend a so-called ‘transition period’ after Brexit beyond 2020.
Originally envisioned as a two-year period after the United Kingdom leaves the European Union in name — currently intended to fall in 2019 — very little in the UK’s relationship with the EU will change during the transition.
The UK will continue to pay into the EU budget, implement new EU directives and regulations, and submit to EU management of its fisheries, the Free Movement immigration regime, and the EU court — but will likely no longer send MEPs to the European Parliament or attend meetings of the European Council.
Brexit campaign leader Nigel Farage has described these arrangements even as they currently stand as “not a deal” but “capitulation”.
The 17.4m did not vote for a large exit fee, the ECJ continuing to have a say over our country or a 2 year transition. This is not a deal, it's a capitulation. pic.twitter.com/cX9qrCi9iP
— Nigel Farage (@Nigel_Farage) December 8, 2017
Now the bloc is considering whether or not it might extend this period of Brexit-in-name-only beyond 2020, with ambassadors from a number of EU member-states discussing the question at a meeting in Brussels on January 10th.
“The Commission didn’t rule out that [the transition period] could be prolonged,” a senior diplomat who was present told POLITICO.
This could see the UK being squeezed for even more money than Prime Minister Theresa May’s Remainer-dominated government has already agreed to hand over, as a new EU budget commences in 2021.
“If there’s an extension that overlaps with the new budget, London will have to pay,” one diplomat declared.
— Leave.EU (@LeaveEUOfficial) August 15, 2017
Farage predicted such a plan may have been in the works some months ago, with EU loyalists on both sides of the English Channel repeatedly postponing the UK’s decoupling from the bloc until an opportunity can be found to thwart it.
“It took nine months to trigger Article 50, for reasons I’ve never yet worked out. We were then told, once it was triggered, ‘Just wait another two years; it’ll all be fine’,” he recalled in August 2017.
“Now we’re told, wait another two years [after that], and I worry, with the complete lack of vision that this government’s got, that at the end of that two or three year period, we’ll be told ‘Well, we just need a few more years’.
“Let’s be clear: we’ve had the arguments over trade, tariffs, borders — that was what the referendum was about. It was settled,” he explained.
“We did not vote for a transitional arrangement; we did not vote for the European Court of Justice to go on making decisions over business in this country; we did not vote for continuance of open borders, and we did not vote to go on paying money.”