Brexit transition period limited by EU – cue sound and fury

The EU’s lead Brexit negotiator Michelle Barnier has in a press conference this morning said that the UK’s transition period out of the union will end on 31 December 2020. This is the official view of the European Commission, and Barnier’s announcement is likely to be met with the usual hot air and indignation in England.

Given that the official exit date from the EU is likely to be 29 April 2019, the transition period will be considerably less than the two years envisaged by the English government. This is based on media reports and comments from various UK ministers. Nothing is set in stone, of course, but we have what we have, Brexit is Brexit, etc., etc….

A relatively short transition period such as dictated by the Commission will provide even less time for the UK to adapt to life in the economic and political wilderness of un-Europe, and I can see the markets reacting negatively to the latest announcement. But it should be surprise no-one, which is why any sound and fury following Barnier’s press conference will be entirely manufactured.

The problem for the EU is that major changes must for the sake of economic and administrative stability align with its own internal rules and procedures, and these include the Multiannual financial framework 2014-2010. Having a Brexit transition period extend beyond the end of the current framework would be a pain in the collective backside for the EU27.