How to keep the EU together: Hand Britain a bad deal

Article 50 of the EU's Lisbon Treaty. Photo illustration taken in Brussels, Belgium, June 24, 2016. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir/Illustration/Files

The current, slow-moving talks have focused mainly on matters surrounding Britain’s actual split from the bloc, namely the exit bill, safeguarding expatriate rights and the future Irish border.

Crucially, the EU is determined to ensure Brexit does not leave Britain better off economically or otherwise, as this could create a precedent undermining the bloc’s purpose and existence in the future.

Britain’s request for a transition period of about two years in which the status quo would be largely preserved “would require a temporary application of Union law to and within the United Kingdom together with… regulatory, budgetary, supervisory, judiciary and enforcement instruments and structures,” it reads.

EU 27 will look further into how such a temporary arrangement would impact the bloc’s cooperation with third countries, including on trade, fisheries or air transport.

The bloc will also seek to ensure Britain adheres to EU rules – including any changes – during transition, and the possible avenue for communication with London since it would “no longer be represented in the EU institutions and participate in the decision-making process.

For any agreement on the future ties with London, the EU expects safeguards to preserve financial stability and rules out British participation in parts, but not all, of its single market.

The bloc is keen to protect itself against “unfair competitive advantages through… tax, social, environmental and regulatory measures and practices.”

Beyond trade, the EU is keen to maintain cooperation with Britain on security – including fighting terrorism and international crime – defense and foreign policy.

The bloc seeks a “balance of rights and obligations” for Britain and is determined to preserve the “indivisible” four freedoms of its single market – of goods, capital, services and labor.

Inside the bloc, the EU wants to preserve the role of the top European Court of Justice, from whose jurisdiction London wants to remove itself.

After Britain leaves, no agreement between the EU and UK would apply to Gibraltar without a separate accord between London and Madrid.

In preparing their own stance on transition and future ties, the 27 will “bear in mind the UK position.”