The European Union’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier told reporters at a press conference in Brussels on Tuesday that the United Kingdom would have to look at the EU’s existing arrangements with nonmember countries such as Switzerland and Norway to determine what kind of relationship it will have after its exit from the European Union.
“It’s up to the U.K. to determine what kind of Brexit it wants,” Barnier said. “In the case of Norway for instance, there is access to the single market but this is accompanied by predetermined and very specific contributions to the EU budget. That’s one of the models that already exist, and that’s really one of the closest models that exists to the EU without being a member,” Barnier said.
Speaking about the EU’s proposal for a new consensus on development, one commission official told Devex it was likely that nonmember countries and aid “actors” would be able and encouraged to opt into the policy document, after EU members endorse it.
“The situation of the U.K. of course is a little bit particular,” the source told Devex at a meeting with commission officials, speaking on condition that they not be named. “We’ve had some requests from current member states that after the agreement is endorsed, we open the consensus for endorsement of other actors,” he said.
The consensus, which will set out the priorities for the EU’s aid strategy from 2017-2020, will serve both as a road map for the EU’s development instruments as well as an “overarching framework for the policy development” of individual countries, he said, meaning signatories would ideally “adapt their instruments to this as well.”
Some analysts have read the U.K.’s recent rhetoric — including around using aid to stem the flow of migrants and combat security threats at home and abroad — as an indication that the country may seek an arrangement similar to Norway’s or Switzerland’s. On the question of aid specifically, Barnier insisted on Tuesday that there would be “no cherry-picking” of benefits allowed to EU access. The U.K. could then follow the lead of other non-EU members such as Iceland, Switzerland and Norway, for which contributions are based on gross domestic product.
Molly is a global development reporter for Devex. Based in London, she covers U.K. foreign aid and trends in international development. She draws on her experience covering aid legislation and the USAID implementer community in Washington, D.C., as well as her time as a Fulbright Fellow and development practitioner in the Middle East to develop stories with insider analysis.
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