Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Complexity

Some things are much more complex than they appear at first glance.

Why U.K. Is Struggling to Find the Path to ‘Brexit’
A recently leaked memo… has highlighted cabinet divisions over Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union, while suggesting that the government may need six additional months to settle on a plan and to recruit tens of thousands of extra civil servants.

The document identified tensions between enthusiasts for British withdrawal… and those fighting to preserve closer economic ties to the bloc…

[T]he more cautious types want to preserve Britain’s access to the European market by maintaining membership in the customs union or the single market, or perhaps some combination of the two…

What’s the difference between the customs union and the single market?

Both the customs union and the single market eliminate tariffs between member states. The customs union sets tariffs with non-European nations, so members share a common trade policy with the rest of the world. The single market removes non-tariff trade barriers, too, for instance by maintaining common product standards…

Is the European customs union a more practical and reachable goal?

It might be. Not all members belong to the European Union… Britain would be able to trade freely in goods within the union… But Britain would have to comply with some European Union regulations.

So what does the British government say about Brexit plans?

As little as possible… it refuses to give a running commentary, saying that would weaken its negotiating position. But British officials had not prepared for Brexit before the referendum and are having to examine its impact on every sector of the economy — a huge exercise. In doing so, they appear to be uncovering more questions than answers…

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