From the “e-gate” to the horizon: London’s steps towards the European Union

Brussels. british prime minister, Rishi Sunak, seems ready to take another small step to bring the UK back into the EU’s cooperation mechanisms to repair the damage caused by Brexit. After controversy over long queues in Dover and Calais for tourists who spent Easter holidays on the continent, Sunak’s government would like to negotiate with Brussels. Agreement to allow citizens holding British passports to use ‘e-gates’ (e-gates) to enter and leave the European Union. second bloombergBritish diplomats have already raised the issue informally with their European counterparts. Sunak will be willing to discuss the matter with Commission President Ursula von der Leyen at the G7 summit to be held in Japan in May. After the turbulent years of Boris Johnson and the short (but also turbulent) arcs of Liz Truss, the two built practical relationship. The agreement reached on February 27 by Sunak and von der Leyen on the “Windsor framework” – measures to implement the Irish protocol to the Brexit agreement, eliminating a number of problems for Northern Ireland – paved the way for other forms of cooperation. London and Brussels have begun negotiating the UK’s return to Horizon, the EU’s research programme, worth around €100 billion. The United Kingdom joined Germany, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Ireland, Luxembourg, Denmark and Norway on Monday in Ostend at a summit where a massive European offshore wind energy development project was launched.

Brussels. british prime minister, Rishi Sunak, seems ready to take another small step to bring the UK back into the EU’s cooperation mechanisms to repair the damage caused by Brexit. After controversy over long queues in Dover and Calais for tourists who spent Easter holidays on the continent, Sunak’s government would like to negotiate with Brussels. Agreement to allow citizens holding British passports to use ‘e-gates’ (e-gates) to enter and leave the European Union. second bloombergBritish diplomats have already raised the issue informally with their European counterparts. Sunak will be willing to discuss the matter with Commission President Ursula von der Leyen at the G7 summit to be held in Japan in May. After the turbulent years of Boris Johnson and the short (but also turbulent) arcs of Liz Truss, the two built practical relationship. The agreement reached on February 27 by Sunak and von der Leyen on the “Windsor framework” – measures to implement the Irish protocol to the Brexit agreement, eliminating a number of problems for Northern Ireland – paved the way for other forms of cooperation. London and Brussels have begun negotiating the UK’s return to Horizon, the EU’s research programme, worth around €100 billion. The United Kingdom joined Germany, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Ireland, Luxembourg, Denmark and Norway on Monday in Ostend at a summit where a massive European offshore wind energy development project was launched.

Sunak’s desire to move closer to the EU is not the result of a sudden political shift to an early exit from the EU. Nor are opinion polls according to which the majority of Britons may reconsider leaving the European Union. But opinion polls are important and reflect dissatisfaction with the problems that citizens and businesses struggle with on a daily basis: the collapse of UK exports, slowing growth, higher inflation than on the continent, long lines of trucks and tourists in Dover, the return of additional roaming fees when traveling in Europe, the increase in immigrants crossing the Channel on boats, and the impossibility of benefiting researchers from Europe. Funding and networking with EU universities: The Tory narrative of the “Brexit dividend” has been shattered. Sunak wants to repair the most visible damage to public opinion. And it could benefit from weakening the ideology of Brexit: the “Windsor framework”, with which it effectively trampled on Boris Johnson’s red lines on compatibility with EU legislation on Northern Ireland and the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice, did not cause a riot among MPs Conservatives. The only real opposition left is the Northern Ireland Democratic Unionists.

Approaching in small steps does not solve all of the UK’s problems, nor does it restore all of the good old relations with the EU. The agreement on passports – according to experts – will be beneficial for airports, since entry stamps will not be needed, but it will not solve the queues in Dover, where there is not enough space for the “e-gates”. Negotiations on returning to Horizon do not progress, because London has asked for a discount on its financial contribution which Brussels is not willing to give. Everyone was present at the Ostend summit on offshore winds, presidents and prime ministers (from Emmanuel Macron to Olaf Schultz, passing through von der Leyen), while Sunak sent his energy security minister, Grant Shapps. But it was also in Ostend that his clear will to reconnect with the European Union was demonstrated because it brings benefits. Shapps has announced the world’s largest undersea interconnection network between the UK and the Netherlands which will bring clean energy to 1.8 million British homes and enhance energy security.

Earl Warner

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