What’s happening now?

Elizabeth Smith

The terrifying prospect of a nodeal Brexit on March 29 remains in play after the British Parliament emphatically rejected Prime Minister Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement with the EU. Leaving the European Union is painful by design.

The process any member state must follow to exit the EU is governed by Article 50 of the bloc’s Lisbon Treaty, which, ironically, was authored by a British diplomat keen to deter exits from the EU. That is why Article 50 sets a two-year negotiation period ending with an ominous deadline: If negotiations have not produced a divorce agreement within the prescribed period – March 29, 2019, in Britain’s case – the member state suddenly nds itself outside the EU, facing disproportionate hardships overnight. With fewer than three months left, the prospect of Britain falling out of the EU without a deal is, understandably, terrifying. A natural response is to call for an extension of Article 50, to reset the clock and give negotiations more time. That instinct must be resisted. Any resetting of the clock would simply extend the paralysis, not speed up convergence toward a good agreement. The worst aspect of May’s deal, which Parliament emphatically and wisely rejected, was that it extended the transition process until 2022, with the UK committing to paying around $50 billion, and possibly more, to the EU in exchange for nothing more than unenforceable promises of some future mutually advantageous deal. Had Parliament voted in favor of May’s deal, it would have prolonged the current gridlock to a new cliff edge three years hence.

NEW ZEALAND Global rules and norms are again coming under threat, and cooperation in meeting the world’s biggest challenges is faltering. New Zealand’s close and long-standing ties with Europe are therefore vitally important, on issues from climate change to trade. Climate change is the de ning global challenge of our time. New Zealand is working together with our EU partners to set ambitious targets for emission reductions, and sharing information and expertise that will support domestic initiatives to meet these targets. The partnership in the eld of global peace and stability is equally valuable. New Zealand and EU work together to combat terrorism through peace support operations, promote the rule of law, and address emerging threats such as cyber security. Global threats require global responses, and a strong partnership is essential to this.

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