Brexit: the future of cooperation around the Channel at riskMarch 2021
Since it came into force on 31 January 2020, the effects of Brexit on the territories oriented towards the Channel are tangible. On both sides, the new procedures for exports are penalising small producers, the fishing and agri-business sectors, as well as the services sector (tourism and hospitality). The economic context linked to the double crisis (Covid and Brexit) is also putting many cross-Channel transport links at risk.
While it is still difficult to identify all of the consequences of Brexit, this strengthened border is prompting a shift in the geography of sea routes, which may turn out to be more or less advantageous depending on the country. Ireland, for example, is benefiting from a reorientation and increase of traffic between its ports and continental Europe, with operators favouring longer and more expensive routes to stay within the EU: an opportunity to be seized by all of France’s Atlantic regions.
While the EU is planning to put in place a Brexit Adjustment Reserve (BAR), a €5 billion compensation fund to mitigate, by 2023, the new costs and negative effects generated by compliance with the new procedures, France is contesting the calculation criteria chosen for the budget allocation, which principally takes account of macroeconomics flows between Member States. The MOT notes that the “territorial” dimension is completely absent from this BAR, with border specificities only being taken into account regarding the question of “managing the new external border” (customs, phytosanitary checks, etc.).
Another thorny issue concerns the future of territorial cooperation programmes for the 2021-2027 period, following the disappearance of Interreg France-United Kingdom, the cross-border programme along France’s borders with the largest budget.
In the future, the main European programme remaining available to British partners will be “Horizon Europe” (R&D).
Nonetheless, British partners will be able to take part in transnational Interreg projects (Atlantic, North-West Europe, North Sea) on an ad hoc basis, by mobilising their own funding.
In the United Kingdom, in order to replace the structural funds, the British government has committed to setting up a Shared Prosperity Fund aimed at “reducing inequalities between communities” (but with greatly reduced resources compared with European funding), a Levelling Up Fund, which will support the regeneration of city centres, local transport projects and cultural and heritage sites, and a new Turing Scheme to replace Erasmus+.
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