Will EU Policy See a Watershed Moment as Brexit Approaches?

The Brexit vote of 2016 no doubt remains one of the most talked-about happenings in the European continent recently. Many questions are left unanswered as we crawl ever closer to the March 2019 deadline.

However, with European Parliamentary elections slated to begin just months later, EU policy makers believe a ‘big-bang’ moment is approaching. Other than Brexit, legislatures are fighting a plethora of other issues simultaneously, and this could mean big changes for the bloc.

As an added bonus for the UK, these other issues may provide the necessary distraction to allow for an easier transition. The new agenda, including items dealing with both economic and social issues, assures that the decisions made by policy makers working on Brexit can be viewed on a larger scale.

Portuguese vice-chair of the 28-nation Socialist group in the European Parliament, Maria Joao Rodrigues, says that a ‘road map’ for the EU is being drawn, which is full of ‘key decisions’ that will coincide with the UK’s withdrawal.

British Prime Minister Theresa May’s government will be glad that the attention of EU policy makers will be on the upcoming elections, as well as this road map for the future, instead of the Brexit negotiations. From the EU perspective, this move will allow legislatures to give at least some context for their constituents.

After an October 19-20 summit in Brussels yielded no new progress on the ‘divorce bill’ discussion, there were fears that negotiations would stall. This most recent development has given some hope for a smooth transition.

Aside from settling the finances of Brexit, the two sides must also decide the fate of EU nationals living in the UK, as well as the treatment of the border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

The new agenda includes a summit in November 2017 to address social inequality throughout Eurozone, giving more aid to rescue funds throughout the bloc as well as create a common finance chief for the Euro.

This is in addition to making a new multi-year spending plan for the post-Brexit years. With neither side yielding in the divorce bill debate, speculation has it they will focus on post-Brexit trade in December 2017, to try and re-start talks on other issues.

Lawmakers such as Ms. Rodrigues are hopeful that Brexit talks will get easier with the EU’s new focus, as well as confident in her organization’s ability to stay pragmatic.

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