Generation Brexit

Blog

The aim of the Generation Brexit blog is give voice to British and European millennials in the Brexit debate.

We invite all LSE undergraduate and postgraduate students, as well as students from our partner universities, to contribute to the blog with reference to one of the challenges on the platform.

We welcome blog posts that draw on your ongoing subject of study and/or research, but also those that tackle other issues, such as employment prospects, immigration status, and funding that may be affected by the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, as well as visions for the future UK/EU relationship.

Submissions, in a Word or Word-readable document and stating your name, course, and year of study should be sent to brexit@lse.ac.uk

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A free trade deal between the European Union and Japan (JEFTA) was finally concluded on the 8th of December 2017. The final agreement was reached after four years of intense bargaining, and it took more than eighteen rounds of negotiations. This time around the Commission took a more innovative approach by keeping out the controversial parts. Miguel Cortijo Antona & Val Afteniuc argue that the lessons that can be drawn from this negotiation are far from optimistic for the UK's post-Brexit international trade ambitions. 

The economic benefits of the EU-Japan deal

Together the two economies account for around 25% of the global GDP, and Japan is the EU’s second biggest trading partner in Asia, after China. The deal promises to boost EU exports to Japan by approximately €20 billion a year. It is good news for European farmers as the tariffs for dairy products, wine and beef have been significantly reduced. European car manufacturers are more ambivalent about the benefits of the deal. While they acknowledge the strategic importance of the deal, which sends a clear message to the rest of the world that two of the globe’s biggest economies are still committed to the principles of free rules-based trade. They are concerned that reduced tariffs on Japanese cars coming into the EU will have a negative impact on their bottom-line. However, not all the tariffs will be reduced at once. Some tariffs will be slashed immediately after the deal is ratified in 2019, others will be phased out during a 15 year period.

What next? What about the controversial ISDS clause?

The controversial topic of ISDS (Investor-state dispute settlement) was left out of the deal. ISDS is a mechanism which allows foreign investors to sue governments of host countries for enacting regulations which affect their profits. While some see ISDS as an important tool for making sure that the rights of foreign investors are protected. Others argue that the vague wording which is used in investment protection chapters allows arbitrators to interpret regulation how they feel suited. While the investment tribunals do not have the right to strike down laws enacted by sovereign nations, they can award financial compensation, often extremely large, that make policy-makers think twice before adopting new laws and regulations.

This controversial clause almost brought down the CETA agreement and was a major issue during the TTIP negotiations. In 2015, the European Commission revamped the controversial dispute settlement mechanism and proposed the creation of an Investment Court System which is arguably more transparent than the current system. However, the big nations including US, China and Japan do not seem too keen on backing the EU’s proposal, and it remains to be seen what kind of dispute settlement system (if at all) will be negotiated between Japan and EU.

Ultimately, it appears that the Europen Commission has learnt its lesson. By not including ISDS in the main agreement it will be able to ratify the EU-Japan trade agreement by a majority vote in the European Parliament and qualified majority voting (QMV) in the European Council, without having to pass it through national parliaments.

Can the EU march on with globalisation?

Both Brexit and Trump are considered to have been major backlashes against globalisation that took place in 2016. With the EU-Japan trade deal, however, it seems that both economic blocs were able to restore confidence in free trade agreements despite the current political climate. The EU views the deal as a way to get back on the front foot in opening up new trading opportunities after the near collapse of CETA in 2016 due to the veto of a Belgian regional parliament. Apart from JEFTA  the EU is now focused on closing deals with other major economies such as South America’s Mercosur and launching new negotiations with Australia and New Zealand. It is also strengthening its ties with the US' backyard: having finalised a trade agreement with Canada it is now renegotiating and updating one with Mexico.

With the failure of TTIP, it seemed as though the Commission was no longer able to negotiate trade deals with major world economies. By excluding the ISDS clause, the executive branch of the EU has given the Member States time to reach a consensus on this controversial issue. There is no running away from it, the EU member states must come up with a common position on ISDS. Trump’s protectionism and the Brexit vote created a free trade gap – with JEFTA the EU was swift to bridge it.

If the EU, with its immense bargaining power, spent close to five years negotiating JEFTA, what is the likelihood that the UK will conclude such trade deals any faster, without completely giving into its counterpart’s demands?  More importantly, what are the chances that the world’s superpowers will prioritise a trade deal with a country with a market of 65 million people, over one with 440 million? Barack Obama’s prediction was perhaps accurate, the UK might well end up at the back of the queue.

This post represents the views of the author and not those of the Generation Brexit blog, nor the LSE.

Miguel Cortijo Antona is an MSc Student in EU Politics & Val Afteniuc is an MSc Studetn in Political Economy of Europe, LSE European Institute.

It’s your typical weekend in England. Supporters are gathering outside of the football stadiums to support their beloved teams. In London, Arsenal hosts Manchester United at the Emirates Stadium, in what is regarded one of Premier League’s classic clashes between two powerhouses. Ninety minutes later, Arsenal fans walked out of the stadium particularly gloomy after a 3-1 defeat. However, a new storm is brewing affecting not just Arsenal, but the league as a whole: Brexit. Sebastian Contreras and Alexander  Kuziw write about the impact of Brexit on the Premier League.

Brexit is one of the most profound changes the UK will ever encounter, affecting a lot of industries, including the entertainment industry. One example would be the football industry, more specifically the Premier League and its access to European football players. This not only applies to the Premier League, but also individual clubs, that rely heavily on European players and access to European audiences. So how will Brexit impact the Premier League?

Visas, permits, and recruitment practice

The Premier League is the most lucrative football league in the world, with a total revenue of £4.4bn in the 2016-17 season, according to Deloitte, a multinational consultancy firm. Part of that success can be attributed to the league’s recruitment of the most talented footballers on the planet, regardless of nationality. Many of the league’s clubs, such as Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United have greatly benefitted from such a strategy, especially by recruiting many EU nationals.

However, the prospect of a hard Brexit may put the league’s status in jeopardy. Firstly, the current immigration system allows complete freedom of movement of labour, which applies to professional football players. But a hard Brexit would entail that EU footballers would have to follow the same immigration procedures as non-EU citizens. This means applying for a Governing Body Endorsement (GBE) by the Football Association (FA), in order to receive a Tier 2 or Tier 5 sportsperson visa. Notwithstanding an apparently straightforward process, the FA requires certain criteria to be met, such as the percentage of games played with the player’s national team, as noted in Figure 1. Also, this requirement has to be met two years prior to the application and one year prior, for players under 21.

Figure 1.0

These intrinsic procedures could undermine the attractiveness of the Premier League across the EU. Decreasing the talent pool available to the league’s clubs could potentially decrease the chances of signing high-calibre players like Cristiano Ronaldo, a Portuguese national, who previously played for Manchester United. This would also entail the loss of the Premier League’s popularity internationally, which could damage the future prospect of future investments. In fact, according to one of the league’s most respected voices, Arsene Wenger, Arsenal’s Manager, Brexit could threaten the financial stability of the league and, therefore, decrease the team’s revenues.

FA vs Premier League

Lastly, another source of conflict may arise between the FA and Premier League. The former has a more optimistic perspective of Brexit, as it could push for allowing talented young English players to make it into the top teams of the Premier League. The logic behind this is to enhance the English national team’s possibilities to win major trophies, such as the World Cup. The FA Chairman, Greg Clarke, emphasised the FA’s goals to recruit the world’s most talented players, while making sure that English players are prioritized over middle-lower ranked international players. This would definitely resonate with the views of Chelsea fans who, according to an online poll by AskFans; supported the Leave campaign by 61% followed by Everton and Tottenham, who both supported leaving the EU at 57%. Conversely, teams such as Manchester United and Arsenal, favoured heavily to remain in the EU, by 62% and 66%, respectively.

This optimism contradicts the Premier League’s objective of ensuring that the league remains competitive, as well as increasing the chances that English teams win major European tournaments, like the Champions League. Moreover, Chelsea fans may have enjoyed the club’s latest successes, but Chelsea would certainly not be as competitive if it lost talents like Eden Hazard or Thibaut Courtois, both Belgian nationals, who have greatly contributed to the team’s successes. In short, it appears that the Premier League is supportive of a softer form of Brexit, which would grant the league access to the European football market, while the FA seems to prefer a harder Brexit.

Considering how intertwined the Premier League is with European players, industries such as telecommunications, merchandising or any other commodity the league produces will certainly be affected by the prospect of a British exit from the EU. Perhaps in a year’s time, Arsenal fans will be gloomier about the effects of a hard Brexit on their team, rather than losing again to Manchester United. 

This post represents the views of the author and not those of the Generation Brexit blog, nor the LSE.

Sebastian Contreras and Alexander Kuziw are MSc Students in EU Politics at the LSE European Institute.

 The relationship between politicians and civil servants is like that of an ice-skating duo. To be   effective, both partners must work in perfect harmony. Any disagreement over the direction of travel   risks humiliation, peril and fractured limbs. By rejecting its own Brexit impact reports,   the government sets a dangerous precedent, writes Will Heilpern (LSE).

Last week the symbiotic bond between British politicians and bureaucrats endured the equivalent of a face-plant, when ministers denounced the Department for Exiting the European Union’s leaked impact assessments. "The only purpose of economic forecasts is to make astrology look respectable," said Brexit minister Steve Baker MP, quoting John Kenneth Galbraith. Mr Baker was not alone in his derision of the report, with the Prime Minister dismissing it “very preliminary” and the former Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith explaining that it should be taken “with a pinch of salt.”

There is nothing new about members of Theresa May’s government playing down the negative consequences of Brexit. However, this is more damaging than a typical slur against the results of a pro-Remain Think Tank. The government’s reaction to the leak is just the latest in a flurry of populist attacks on academic rigour and expertise, as well as a direct insult to an already demoralized department. During the referendum campaign, cabinet minister Michael Gove infamously said, “People in this country have had enough of experts”.  No one expected it to become an official government rebuke to its own salaried wonks.

There is nothing new about members of Theresa May’s government playing down the negative consequences of Brexit.

Even the hardest Brexiteer cannot label the impact assessment as part of “Project Fear”. It was compiled by the Government Economic Service and DExEU’s own economics team. According to ITV’s Robert Peston, secretaries of state were allowed to bring their own chief economists to meetings to scrutinize analysis and provide input. The ministers’ auto-rejection of the impact assessment out of pure econo-scepticism should leave every number cruncher in Whitehall feeling nervous. The implication is that government should not bother commissioning them to predict the costs of its policies at all. Even worse, it will have a corrosive effect on future administrations, for many years to come. Any sober calculation of expected costs and benefits will now be easy to laugh off.

Image by opposition24.de, (Flikcr), (CC BY 2.0).

In the 21st century battle between experts and fake news, the British government has yet to decide which side it is on. Last week, it announced plans to launch a specialist team dedicated to tackling fake news and disinformation. Ironically, due to the government’s inability to answer substantive questions about the new Fake News Unit, Tom Watson, Labour’s deputy leader, labelled the announcement itself ‘fake news’. Regardless, tackling disinformation requires more than simply exposing misleading clickbait from viral websites and even propaganda from the Russian state press machine. Being on the side of truth requires real engagement with facts. Economics is not an exact science and Brexiteers are entitled to point out that Treasury predictions have been proven false in the past, but the way to challenge an economic forecast is to question its data, assumptions and analysis. Not to relegate a respected academic discipline to the realm of pseudo-science.

A look inside the report shows that DExEU predicts a soft Brexit would cost the UK economy two per cent of GDP over the next 15 years. A hard Brexit, with a Canada-style free trade deal would shrink GDP by five per cent. While a no-deal scenario, with the UK left to trade on WTO terms, would slash eight per cent from the UK’s GDP. What about “Truly Global Britain” and its re-kindled relationships with economies outside of the EU? The report expects that a future trade deal with the US would add just 0.2% to GDP, and treaties with other non-EU countries would add a somewhere between 0.1 and 0.4%.

Of course, these predictions may all turn out to be false. The assumptions about the growth of the EU could be wildly over-estimated and trade with India and China may become easier than expected due to the sudden invention of teleportation. We simply cannot know. However, it is certain that politicians who take the advice of their economists will more likely deliver prosperity than those who use populist rhetoric as the sole basis for their economic acrobatics.

This post represents the views of the author and not those of the Generation Brexit blog, nor the LSE.

Will Heilpern is an MSc candidate in Global Politics at the LSE. Previously he has worked as a journalist at CNN and Business Insider and as a speechwriter in The European Parliament. He can be found tweeting here.

 The breakdown of the deal on the Irish border is a symptom of a larger problem,   writes McCauley Pugh (LSE).

 When it was announced on December 4th that London and the European Union had   reached an agreement on the Irish border, it was immediately peculiar that the Democratic   Unionist. Party would agree to any “regulatory alignment” between Northern Ireland and   the EU. The reason that the government was presumptively able to reach that agreement was revealed: the DUP had not been informed about it.

The collapse of the agreement on December 4th is just the beginning of what is likely to be a challenging time for Northern Ireland. The problem has become well known over the last few days. If Northern Ireland leaves the European Union Customs Union, there will need to be some sort of a “hard border” between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. If Northern Ireland remains in the customs union or remains mostly aligned with it, there will need to be some sort of a “border” on the Irish Sea. No one has come up with an adequate solution to get around this problem.

Even if the agreement on December 4th had gone ahead, it would not have solved this problem. The breakdown of the agreement was disappointing for many, in particular for the government of the Republic of Ireland. But the DUP is a democratically legitimate party representing the viewpoints of a large portion of the population of Northern Ireland. Unionists see themselves as British, think a close relationship with Britain is imperative and are deeply against the prospect of a united Ireland. It is therefore not surprising that the largest unionist party in Northern Ireland would reject a deal that would have meant divergence from Britain and integration with the Republic of Ireland.

Nationalists are well represented in the Brexit negotiations as well. Their interests are closely aligned with those of the Republic of Ireland, and the EU has said that there will be no deal that Dublin does not support. The Irish government has made it clear that, despite the events of December 4th, their position on the Irish Border has not changed.

The DUP has a great deal of influence over London’s decisions on Brexit through its confidence-and-supply agreement with the Conservatives. Since Dublin’s position is in many ways opposed to that of the DUP, it is not easy to predict an end to this standoff. Perhaps the DUP, fearful of a government lead by Jeremy Corbyn, may ultimately back down. But this would not solve the underlying problem. If the deal had gone ahead, it would have lead to the long-term problem of unionists being unhappy with Northern Ireland’s divergence from Britain. On the other hand, if, as First Minister Arlene Foster insists, Northern Ireland leaves the European Union “on the same terms as the rest of the United Kingdom,” nationalists would be enraged over Northern Ireland’s divergence from the Republic of Ireland.

We know from Northern Ireland’s recent history that if all sides do not support an agreement, then the agreement is unlikely to last. December 4th was not the first time that the DUP has been opposed to an accord on Northern Ireland. Ian Paisley, the founder of the DUP, was a major actor in the strikes that brought down the Sunningdale Agreement in 1974. The DUP made its opposition to the Anglo-Irish Agreement clear in 1985 and, before campaigning that the people of Northern Ireland vote to reject it, completely sat out of the Good Friday Agreement in 1998. The Good Friday Agreement did not function well until the DUP eventually supported its power-sharing provisions through the 2006 St. Andrews Agreement.

Brexit has interrupted many of the aspects that have brought relative stability to Northern Ireland. Both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland may be negatively impacted economically. In the past, when there was a political crisis in Northern Ireland, London, Dublin and Washington could intervene to address the issues. While the election of Donald Trump has landed the United States in its own chaotic situation, Brexit has been enough of a distraction for Dublin and London that the governments have not paid adequate attention to the political situation in Northern Ireland. This was likely a large factor in the collapse of the power-sharing government earlier this year.

The problem caused by Brexit that the events on December 4th highlighted is the interruption of the solution to the border problem. The EU has allowed the UK and the Republic of Ireland to become two integrating states. Blurring the lines of sovereignty was integral in solving the zero-sum border issue and eventually helped lead to the Good Friday Agreement, which brought the relative peace and stability that Northern Ireland has recently enjoyed. The breakdown of the agreement on December 4th is just a symptom of this zero-sum problem that has returned. It is a problem for which no one has proposed a good solution and is likely to persist.

McCauley Pugh recently completed his MSc in Comparative Politics at LSE. He specialised in Nationalism and Ethnic Politics. He completed his BA in Politics and Italian at University College Dublin. 

 On the 10th of November Michel Barnier demanded that the UK needed to show significant   progress on three of the main negotiation issues by December 2017 - rights of UK and EU   citizens, the Brexit bill Britain will have to pay, and the Northern Ireland border. The   negotiations have faced challenges, with the UK and the EU believing the UK ‘wants to have   the cake and eat it too’, as it is being too fanciful with what it can have. The Northern Ireland   border issue adds a complexity to the negotiations, write Ellie Couchman, Alice Steward,   and Isabel Flanagan.

On the one hand, post-Brexit there is a need for a ‘hard border’ with physical checkpoint and barriers in Ireland to control the flow of goods and people from the EU’s free movement area over the only land border to Britain who will have removed itself from the EU. On the other hand, the introduction of a ‘hard border’ separating Ireland and Northern Ireland which is politically unthinkable. With the history of ‘The Troubles’ politicians worry that the rising tensions could lead to a return of ethnic violence in Ireland. Leo Varadkar has requested a formal guarantee that there will be no hard border, without which he will block Brexit negotiations in December. However, there are some suggestions to invoke an ‘invisible border’ which may offer a middle ground between a hard and soft Brexit border. 

This ‘invisible border’ is better understood as a technological border. On the 16th of August, the UK government published its position paper on Northern Ireland and Ireland - one of three key issues the EU has made a priority. The position paper states that it wants to “[avoid] a hard border” and that the solution will be both political and technical, but fails to mention what kind of “technical solution” we’re looking at. In the process of taking back control, are we inadvertently just handing it over to Big Brother? As Millennials, giving away our data is standard. After downloading an app a simple tap gives companies access to our contacts, our microphone, our location and camera. We’re barely even fazed by stories of targeted adverts on one website being picked up by another app. We’ve come of age with technology, and data hacks are a somewhat inevitable fact of life. But are we really aware of all the risks of so much surveillance? 

Whilst there hasn’t been a clear breakdown by the UK Government of what technology will be used at the border, there has been great speculation by government officials and technology experts. The most discussed options have included CCTV, drone patrols and number plate and facial recognition. The use of CCTV would allow border movements to be captured and give the police the authority to be alerted if known suspects were crossing the border. This would let both Ireland and Northern Ireland to have control on criminals entering and leaving each country. On the other hand, drones would enable larger amounts of land to be under surveillance, alerting border authorities of human movement. An example of drones being used for border control can be seen between the USA and Mexico. Meanwhile, number plate and facial recognition would allow the authorities to track each individual that crosses the border. The use of number plate recognition on a border is already used between Norway and Sweden.

However, the political reaction to this technological solution has been mixed. British Prime Minister continues to declare that the UK does not want a hard border in Ireland. In her Florence Speech, on September 22nd, May reaffirmed the government's commitment to upholding the Good Friday agreement and the Common Travel Area in Ireland. The government's position to use technology, as a replacement for a hard border, has been supported by other external actors. For one, there is the Swiss, who use a similar type of system to guard their own border, advised the UK government that the technological solution is a way of avoiding placing boots on the ground at the border. Then there is the think tank Legatum Institute which views the use of technology as the most effective way to man the border, supporting the use of cameras and license plate tracking over the border.

However, there are other onlookers who suggest that the government's invisible border is nothing more than a utopian dream. The Customs and revenue’s office has released a statement saying that an “open border is not possible from a customs perspective, and it would be naive to believe a unique arrangement can be found.” They point out the infrastructural difficulties with establishing an open border, but also pointing out that creating any type of system for the Irish border will take longer than the two years which the government has for the initial Brexit negotiations. The EU is another actor which is critical of the government's plans. While the EU seemed supportive of May’s position, that there was to be no hard border in Ireland, they believe that the UK is responsible for finding a credible solution for the Irish border problem. The EU believe that the suggestion for an invisible border based on technology is “hopelessly utopian and unfeasible,” and they are worried that such a system could be manipulated by smugglers and criminals. Former Northern Ireland and Wales Secretary, Mr Hain, had a similar critique “what I see in the UK’s paper on Ireland and Northern Ireland worries me. Creativity and flexibility can’t be at the expense of the integrity of the Single Market and Customs Union. This would not be fair for Ireland and it would not be fair for the European Union.”

The Irish Border issue still remains unclear. The technological solution which the government presented in their position did nothing except complicate the issue more. Technology is not a ‘third way’ solution between the soft and hard boarder of options, rather it raises the question - is a technological border even possible? There are issues about timeline, feasibility, and criminals. However, in some ways these critiques have glossed over a central issue at the heart of the debate: do we really want the government to be using technology to track movement along the Irish border? Us millennials are so used to divulging our information, but we should stop a moment and reflect on the consequences of this gathering of data. Is the government simply replacing the Irish border with a big brother? With the December deadline fast approaching, perhaps we will find the answer to this complex issue…

By Ellie Couchman, Alice Steward, Isabel Flanagan

Undivided is a UK wide, youth-led campaign to allow 13-29 year olds to shape post-Brexit Britain. The campaign was set up by 30 young people in the wake of the EU referendum. Together we voted Remain, Leave or didn’t vote at all (some of us were under 18) but regardless of how we voted in the referendum, everyone connected to the campaign were united by the motivation to ensure that young people’s views shaped Britain’s future outside of the EU. 

The campaign launched in October 2016 with media coverage across the Today programme, BBC2, SBTV, ITV, Sky, 4Music and Newsbeat - issuing a call for young people to submit and vote on their top demands for what they want to see from Brexit. Our campaign garnered an overwhelming response from young people from all parts of the country. By channelling input from young people through creative, grassroots campaigning and a sophisticated online voting platform we have been able to gather rich, nationally representative data on what young people want to see from the Brexit negotiations.

The campaign trialled innovative ways of engaging 13-29 year olds from across the UK, reaching over 4 million young people in this age bracket both online and offline - a third of all young people in Britain - including some of the most hard to reach groups. Offline, we ran a programme of educational events in schools as well as a grant programme which created 96 peer-led, creative events in every nation and region of the country (ranging from spoken word performances, to art installations and film content). Downloadable toolkits enabled teachers, community groups and young people to run facilitated debates, classes and events on the issue of Brexit. From a total of 96 events, we engaged over 3,500 young people to make informed decisions on what they thought about Brexit - often starting from no clear view.

Online, we directed young people to submit their demands through our innovative voting platform giving us an initial 2,300 demands chosen by young people themselves. We then called young people to vote on these demands, helping us build up rich pool of polling data on what under 30s want Britain to look like after we leave the EU, involving the direct participation from over 9,000 13-29 year olds from 76% of UK constituencies. Savvy social media campaigning, targeting and content built a rich community of advocates and a trustworthy, youthful, and more importantly, youth-led brand. 

The 9,000 strong research sample forms a comprehensive analysis of what UK young people want from the Brexit negotiations and has been shared with the Department for Exiting the EU, Department for Media, Sport and Culture as well as the British Council and the LSE.

Collaboration is, however, key, which is why Undivided is endorsing the LSE’s Generation Brexit project, to ensure that young people from the UK and from across Europe have a say in what Brexit looks like...

Authors: Elliott Goat and Elspeth Hoskins

Coverage of the Brexit negotiations has recently become dominated with discussions over the so-called “Brexit Bill” - the amount the UK and the European Union could be forced to pay when the UK eventually exits the European Union. This blog, by Valeria Vigilante, Manuela Cristiano, and Marta Kochetkova, looks at the implications of the “Brexit Bill” and how existing public debates over how and when the amount asked for should be paid have shaped the views expressed by millennials on the Generation Brexit platform. The authors highlight the variety of views young Europeans aged 16-35 have on this issue, one of the most discussed topics on General Brexit platform, and the key concerns and arguments the participants on the platform have put forward in relation to one of the most topical aspects of the Brexit negotiations.

As the first stages of negotiations are taking place in Brussels, the media coverage and public debate, in the UK and across Europe, has been dominated by discourse over money and the so-called Brexit bill. 

But what does this bill exactly entail? 

The “Brexit Bill” is simply the sum of the UK’s financial obligations against the EU. The argument brought forward by the EU is easy to understand: there are multiannual programs in execution for which at the time the UK gave its approval as well as it showed a readiness to support their costs. If now the UK decided to default on its obligations, it would leave a gap in the budget.

Therefore, EU wants first the UK to accept the principle of paying for the commitments made and then proceed to compute their amount.

For its part, the UK could claim those European assets paid with its financial contribution. In these cases, there should be a space for a negotiation.

But, what does the Bill comprehend in terms of money and obligations? 

-       There has not been an official amount of money yet; however, the EU seems to ask 60bn € to the UK as arrears to cover the costs of the commitments made together in the past years as well as financial contributions to the European budget.

-       150bn is the total amount of European assets against which, right as in a divorce, the UK could claim its share post Brexit, which could amount of a share for London equal to over 20bn €, spread across different assets.  

However, it is all still settled in the realm of probability and uncertainty. There are divergent opinions on the Bill, among EU and UK officials as well within the media and the general public. While there is now a generally agreed British obligation to pay the bill, as Brexit minister Joyce Anelay has acknowledged, there are many different scenarios that could take place: from the actual sum to be paid and in what currency to how the bill could be paid, spread over a three-years timeframe, for instance. In particular, young demographics, the famously called ‘millennials, are concerned about the bill and how it could affect them in many different ways, depending on the decisions taken during the negotiations. Negative effects, for millennials, not only in terms of declining GDP (as the British Treasury estimates in case of hard Brexit) and stagnating economy, but also in terms of research and projects funding. Yet, as there many different scenarios and potential negative effects so there are many different opinions among the millennial demographic on what the necessary course of action is: how much to pay, how to pay and for what, what to prioritize. The highly polarized positions across the millennial generation appears clear on the Generation Brexit, an online platform created to crowdsource a millennial vision of Brexit and future UK-EU relations.  

Generation Brexit is an online platform which aims to collect and enable millennials’ opinions and proposals in regards to the Brexit negotiations. As such, it has been a good sample of heterogeneous opinions surrounding the divorce bill.

Overall, the Brexit bill has been one of the most discussed topic on the platform as it was set among the earliest discussion boards, named ‘challenges’, and collecting around 23 different proposals, 230 votes and more than 40 users.

More or less, the over majority of users agrees that the UK needs to pay a sum to exit the European Union, presented as a matter of responsibility, thus mirroring Anelay’s position. However, this shared agreement ceases here: users have presented a wide range of different ideas on how the matter should be carried on. Interestingly, some users have forwarded the idea that the bill should be split between the UK and the EU, while others consider the UK as the sole responsible for the Brexit, thus the sole accountable for the bill; an user suggests that the bill can be paid over time, in different instalments.  On the other hand, others are more concerned on how the exit bill means an exit from common projects, which have benefited the UK in different sectors: form scientific research to arts and creative industry. This last discussion underlines an interesting aspect of the bill, which is rarely, if never, considered within the public media. This uncovers not only how multilayered Brexit is as a phenomenon but also the great potential of initiatives such as Generation Brexit.  

What has been interesting to observe is how the heterogeneous positions on the matter have not hindered the online discussion on the Generation Brexit platform: in many cases, users have welcomed others’ proposals as something new they had not thought of yet. In other cases, a compromise or shared view was achieved. These are all positive signs of how well the project itself is going and, more importantly, of the important role the general public can have: to offer original and different perspectives on complicated matters. Lastly, the project becomes even more significant when considering that the decisions undertaken during the Brexit negotiations will affect directly the general public.

It is has become clear, based on the views that millennials have already expressed on the Generation Brexit platform, that the question of the “Brexit Bill” is just as contentious and discussed on the platform and among the youth demographic as it is in the UK and European media and public arena at the moment. Young European citizens, those living, studying and working all over Europe, view the questions of how much will be paid, by whom, when and how as key and have strong opinions on the topic, opinions they have chosen to express on the platform through numerous proposals and votes, though a majority opinion has yet to emerge.

What has been made obvious, however, is how engaged young people are with the topic and the evident understanding among millennials over how crucial getting the negotiations over the “Brexit Bill” right is, not only for the progress of the Brexit negotiations once this issue has been dealt with, but also as young European citizens and taxpayers with concerns and suggestions worth listening to.

Authors: Valeria Vigilante, Manuela Cristiano, Marta Kochetkova   

The Brexodus of workers is underway and key sectors can’t cope. Record numbers of nurses are quitting the NHS and farming is struggling. We can’t let the focus on the post-Brexit deal distract us from the present—but the present does hold important clues as to the assurances that EU workers demand. 

Visual Story: https://storify.com/liammarcrobson/jobs-post-brexit

The pressure on nursing is twofold. Six months after the vote to leave the European Union, only 96 nurses joined the health service from other EU countries—a drop of 1,208 from the month after the referendum. Meanwhile, 2,700 EU nurses abandoned the National Health Service in 2016— a 68 per cent increase from 2014. With the NHS going through what the British Red Cross has described as a ‘humanitarian crisis’, it simply cannot cope with the haemorrhaging of a workforce which makes up 57,000 of its staff. 

Farming—which provides the vast majority of food that Brits consume—is also under pressure. The National Farmers Union published a survey in 2016 showing the damaging effect of the vote on agricultural labour availability. Pre-vote, 100 per cent of labour providers said they could recruit the seasonal workers they need. By the end of September, only 40 per cent of providers could recruit the people required to put food on our plates. 

But might this mean more jobs for British workers? Think again. Instead, a Norwegian worker called Thorvald is being readied to plug a labour shortage on UK farms. He’s one of a new breed of robots capable of killing fungus, carrying strawberry plants long distances across fields—potentially any agricultural task. Best of all, he doesn’t even need a visa. 

We are lucky such technology exists and may be capable of filling the gap in the farming sector. The idea of robots caring for us in our sickbeds isn’t quite so appealing. It is therefore crucial to understand why EU workers have responded to Britain’s intention to leave by leaving themselves. 

The free-fall of the value of the pound has inevitably been a factor in making the UK a less attractive place to work. The value of UK wages in EU currencies is worth 15% less than pre-referendum—making the increase in the national ‘living’ wage fruitless to foreign workers. 

However, this alone doesn’t explain the Brexodus. Take home pay for a single worker in the UK is four or five times higher in the UK than in Romania and Bulgaria after taking into account cost of living. Crucially, lack of certainty over rights to remain feeds into a broader feeling held by EU citizens of no longer being welcome in the UK. Spanish nurses report feeling like ‘second-class citizens’. What with the lack of certainty over their future rights to live and work in the UK, who can blame them? 

The solution to the fall in the pound will prove complex and will depend on the type of relationships negotiated between the UK, EU27, and non-EU countries during the next two years. However, the UK could, and should, assure EU workers that they are welcome and deeply valued in Britain—with a legal guarantee of protection of their rights into the future. 

Robots may not have feelings, or families to support, or a life in the balance—but EU citizens do. We must act now or risk our key sectors suffering further. 

Share your views and suggestions and contribute to the debate on the Generation Brexit platform now! 

Liam Marc Robson and Tollak Nylænde Bowitz 

 

Theresa May, the British Prime Minister, has suggested pulling out of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) following Brexit. It is important for us to understand what the ECJ is, what the Court does, and why UK negotiators want out.

Visual Guide to the blog: https://storify.com/janiswong/post-brexit-law-will-eu-law-matter

The European Court of Justice is the highest court overseeing European Union law. As a part of the Court of Justice of the European Union, it interprets EU law and ensures its equal application across all Member States.

This should not, as much of the media have, be confused with the European Convention of Human Rights and the European Court of Human Rights. From its creation by the Treaty of London in 1949, the UK was one of the first ten states to sign up to these non-EU bodies. The ECHR and its respective Court is part of the international treaty protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms and therefore remains independent from the EU and Brexit.

In addition to the ECJ’s role in upholding the EU single market, the Court also has power over fundamental UK law and regulations such as rejecting Scotland’s plan to raise the minimum price of alcohol, allowing employers to ban headscarves in the workplace, permitting national courts to ban prisoner voting, and upholding strict tobacco regulations.

While EU negotiators believe that the court must have authority in settling post-Brexit, the UK government (although not in an official public statement) promised to remove the UK from the jurisdiction of the Luxembourg-based court.

By all accounts an arbitrary body will be needed to ensure ‘fair play’ during the negotiations. The question is whether the ECJ will maintain jurisdiction in a post-EU Britain. The EU supports the ECJ’s continued influence on the UK, both during and after the end of the Article 50 TFEU negotiation process. From settling disputes over money to protecting the rights of EU citizens living in Britain, the remaining 27 Member States hope to maintain the ECJ’s rule of law, standards of independence, and impartiality.

In the UK, Theresa May has insisted that the ECJ will lose its control over British affairs when the UK leaves in Spring 2019. As the Brexit negotiations begin, David Davis, the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, has echoed these statements. However, some EU ministers have stressed that there is no possibility of remaining in the Single Market and opting out of the ECJ.

At present, it is unclear which side will have to make the most concessions. Regardless of the outcome, it can be certain that both the UK and the EU will want to prioritise their citizens first.

Share your views and suggestions and contribute to the debate on the Generation Brexit platform now! 

Janis Wong and Alejandro Newsome

Sovereignty was a key issue throughout the campaign, and Michael Gove was adamant that it was the “overwhelming reason” for the UK voting to leave the EU. To understand if British sovereignty is at risk, there needs to be an understanding of what ‘sovereignty’ actually is.

Visual Guide to the blog: 
https://storify.com/BrexitGen/changing-brexit-borders#publicize

Sovereignty can be understood as the supreme authority of a government, by which it is able to govern itself independently, without the interference of other nations. For example, the UK chose to set up the NHS while the US decided not to offer universal healthcare.

Now that we have established what sovereignty is, let’s look at whether the UK will gain sovereignty after Brexit. The ‘Vote Leave’ side argued that membership of the EU threatened the supreme authority of Parliament. Being a member of the EU means that we are subject to the principle of supremacy of the ECJ, which means that European law trumps national law. This is a popular idea. Indeed, Theresa May has suggested introducing the Great Repeal Bill to retrieve legislative powers from the EU.

Brexit could help to strengthen UK sovereignty. However, how sovereignty will be returned to the UK is not clear. The Great Repeal Bill is likely to result in the Henry VIII clauses being invoked when deciding which EU laws to keep and which to cut. This arrangement means that ministers and public services can avoid any EU law becoming UK law, without going through parliament. Legislation will be passed without scrutiny from elected officials, undermining the influence and importance of the country's democratic institution, Parliament.

Both Scotland and Northern Ireland voted to remain within the EU, and this has raised the question of whether they should be allowed to remain EU members by becoming independent. This creates the potential for future referendums in these countries. Even if the UK remains a unified state, it is unclear how the EU powers will be divided up between the four regions or whether they will remain solely in Westminster. The legislative powers, which the UK hopes to take back from the EU, may return powers back to the government but not necessarily to UK citizens.

Brexit can be seen to both increase and reduce parliamentary sovereignty. In theory, an exit from the EU will allow the UK to have control over all of its laws. However, Brexit may reduce parliamentary scrutiny and threaten the unity of the UK. Before we enter the minefield that is the negotiation process, we need to consider what kind of sovereign state we want to be.

Share your views and suggestions and contribute to the debate on the Generation Brexit platform now! 

Alice Stewart, Isabel Flanagan, and Ellie Couchman

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