I couldn’t resist having a peek at the famous Withdrawal Agreement about which there’s so much fuss. I was particularly interested in finding out what it had to say about farming and fisheries.
The references to agricultural support (on pp 363-364)
restrict the UK to a maximum expenditure equivalent to
what we would have spent if we were still in the CAP, and to not reducing the share
of that spending which is on non-trade-distorting (so-called ‘Green Box’)
So we mustn’t increase state spending (as if the Treasury was champing at the bit to do so) and we mustn’t link subsidies to production levels. These are not difficult conditions to comply with. In fact they ought to encourage a better bespoke British agricultural policy (less of the money going to those large farms that need it less) which might become the envy of remaining EU members (as their farm structures change to become more like ours, and the political impact of existing CAP subsidies gets uncomfortable).
The provisions for fisheries are also thought-provoking. Dealing with resource-problems that don’t respect national boundaries (free movement of fish; free movement of pollutants) deserves fresh thinking. The Brexit-related debate about fishing will promote a review of approaches to such issues that ought to be welcome.
So the Withdrawal Agreement can be seen as giving opportunities for Britain to improve existing EU policies by example or leadership. And, if successful, maybe these developments will make continuing membership more attractive. And as the transitional period can go on to the end of the century...... ..........BREUNION anyone?