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英国首相并不知道怎么脱欧,为什么?

Thomas Raines 2018年07月18日

数月以来,英国政府似乎一直想完成不可能的任务。

美国总统唐纳德·特朗普访英期间,似乎在英国脱欧问题上选好了队,他告诉《太阳报》,英国首相特雷莎·梅的“脱欧方案和人们想要的相差甚远”。这话强烈诟病了梅的工作,但同时也提出了一个十分关键的问题:脱欧应该是什么样的?

7月9日,最高调的脱欧拥护者鲍里斯·约翰逊继脱欧事务大臣戴维·戴维斯之后也递交辞呈,作为英国脱欧运动的主要推动者,他认为政府新提出的方案有悖于脱欧运动对英国上下做出的承诺。

约翰逊在辞职信中哀叹脱欧梦正在慢慢死去。据他诊断,病因是“毫无必要的自我怀疑”。他认为英国正在朝半脱欧的方向发展,这意味着哪怕离开欧盟后,英国也会被困在欧盟体系中。但与其说是因为缺乏自信,更重要的原因是英国在内部矛盾与为了脱欧必须要进行的利弊权衡和妥协让步中苦苦挣扎。

数月以来,英国政府似乎一直想完成不可能的任务,试图画圆为方,既想正式离开欧盟的单一市场和关税同盟,又不想在爱尔兰和北爱尔兰之间形成硬边界,同时还想确保形成的协议对整个联合王国都有效(也就是说保证不会有北爱尔兰单独协议)。梅仍然坚定不移地致力于在退出单一市场的同时不形成硬边界。然而离开单一市场就意味着需要在南北爱尔兰边界设置检查岗或者对北爱尔兰做出特别安排,而她(和其少数政府支持者北爱尔兰民主统一党)已经排除了这两个选项。上述不同立场间显然无法兼容。

爱尔兰边界在很多方面都成为脱欧进程的阿喀琉斯之踵。目前,北爱尔兰和爱尔兰之间没有实体边界存在,这得益于英国和爱尔兰的欧盟成员国身份和双方20年来的和平共处,因此没有必要在两国间建立任何实体边界。双方都担心强化南北爱尔兰边界会破坏20年来的政治和经济发展,所以在努力避免出现这种结果。但也因此严重限制了英国脱欧的范围。

英国政府试图解决上述难题,内阁也于7月6日对英国与欧盟的未来关系达成了一致立场,但三天后约翰逊辞职了。政府的建议是继续留在欧盟市场中,但仅仅保留商品交易,放弃服务交易。只是退出单一服务市场不会产生边界问题,而英国政府相信可以和欧盟之外的其他经济体之间达成服务贸易自由化,可以说是非常宏伟的目标了。此外,英方还提出了一个复杂的关税方案,要求英国可以代表欧盟对从英国中转运往欧盟的商品征税,对于目的地是英国的货品,征收(可能较低的)英国关税。同样的,设计这个复杂程序部分原因是为了避免在南北爱尔兰间形成边界,同时保持一定的贸易政策自由度。批评者——双方都有——认为这一政策既让英国接受了欧盟的规则,又失去对欧盟的规则制定的影响力,而且质疑在实际过程中这个程序是否可行。

关于这个提案,有两点需要了解。第一,它是保守党内部谈判的产物,而不是和欧盟谈判的结果。梅希望画出的脱欧蓝图既能体现脱欧者想要维持主权和贸易独立的想法,又可以最大程度地减少留欧者(和商界)对于脱欧可能引发的经济混乱的担忧,同时保持南北爱尔兰的现状。但约翰逊和戴维斯的想法却没有办法得到满足。许多更强硬的脱欧派充满愤怒,但目前梅似乎得到了多数国会议员的支持。

第二,按照现有的形式,这一方案很可能无法获得布鲁塞尔的认同。欧盟在谈判中有自己的底线。核心原则是不破坏欧盟单一市场的完整性以及支撑这一完整性的商品、资本、服务和劳工自由。欧盟会觉得英国只想保留单一商品市场的想法是挑肥拣瘦,既想享受欧盟成员国待遇的好处,又不想履行全面义务。从单一市场的完整性和法律角度来看,欧盟领导人会认为单一市场的不可分割性是维持欧盟政治平衡的必要条件。如果进行拆分,给英国特殊安排,整个联盟可能就散了。

欧洲委员会从更实用的角度上质疑如何能够按照英国希望的方式分割商品和服务。虽然可能商品的单一市场对欧盟更有利(因为欧盟对英国的商品贸易是顺差,服务贸易是逆差,而供应链是在整个大陆形成一体),但是想要维持市场完整性的政治考虑显然占据了上风。更广义地讲,欧盟领导人认为联盟面对着多种政治挑战和不同派系。这种情况下,维持团结和欧盟体系的完整性是重中之重。

今后脱欧将何去何从?当前政府的妥协很可能会在和布鲁塞尔的谈判中进一步被稀释。如果英国想要脱离欧盟的司法管辖,要如何管理这套共同的规则体系?这一问题也没有完整的答案。英国和欧盟移民这个政治敏感话题很可能会制造出新的分歧。欧盟可能会试图引导英国达成一个和挪威类似的协议,让英国仍然完全留在单一市场中,但加强海关管理规定,届时怀疑论者会认为脱欧名存实亡。虽然英国方面态度出现了软化,但可能,甚至很可能,到2019年3月29日这一既定脱欧日期,英国和欧盟只是对双方未来关系的大致轮廓达成了一致,具体细节仍然需要在之后的过渡期继续进行谈判磋商。

同时,脱欧支持者需要想一想,是用他们想要的方式脱欧更重要,还是彻底离开更重要。他们能否接受一个没那么“纯粹的”脱欧梦,还是支持政府做出让步,确保英国真正离开欧盟?另一个知名的脱欧支持者迈克尔·戈夫现在仍然在内阁任职,据报道,他的思路更长远:3月前退出,但双边关系可以等到未来去慢慢界定慢慢发展。其他人立场却更加强硬,他们控诉政府背叛了国家。但他们只是少数派,而且不确定这些人是否愿意或者能够推翻梅的领导,而这势必会进一步引发政治混乱。

今年秋天,这种不稳定似乎避无可避。10月将召开欧盟峰会。英国和欧盟却还没有对所谓“保障”协议的形式达成一致,这指的是如果其他的海关制度不起作用时,为避免在南北爱尔兰间形成硬边界而制定的保障政策。英国同意了制订保障协议,但认为欧盟的提案可能会影响英联邦的宪法完整性。何况任何协议都需要经过英国和欧洲议会的同意。梅现在只有一个少数派政府,党内还有很大一部分人持不同意见,因此她可能需要从反对党中寻求支持,才能避免出现零协议的惨淡局面。简而言之,英国政治的不稳定还远未结束。(财富中文网)

托马斯·雷恩斯是英国皇家国际事务研究所的研究员及欧洲项目经理。

译者:Agatha

During his visit to the U.K., President Donald Trump seemed to take sides on Brexit, telling The Sun Thursday that U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May “is striking is a much ¬different deal than the one the people voted on.” While harshly critical of May, it raises the key question: What should Brexit look like?

On July 9, Boris Johnson, Brexit’s most high-profile champion, followed the Brexit secretary David Davis in quitting the government, believing its proposed new approach does not deliver on the promises made to the country by the Leave campaign, which he helped lead.

In his resignation letter, Johnson mourns that the Brexit dream is dying. His diagnosis of the cause is “needless self-doubt.” He believes the U.K. is headed for a semi-Brexit, with the U.K. locked into the EU system even after its departure. But rather than a lack of confidence, Brexit is floundering on the rocks of its own contradictions, and the very real trade-offs and compromises it necessitates.

For months, the government has been trying to square a seemingly impossible circle, in which Britain formally leaves the EU’s single market and customs union, avoids a border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, and ensures there is a deal for the whole of the U.K. (i.e. making sure that there is no separate deal for Northern Ireland). May remains steadfastly committed to leaving the single market, and to avoiding a hard border. Yet leaving the single market would necessitate the need for checks on the Irish border, or specific arrangements for Northern Ireland, which she (and the Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party, which props up her minority government) have already excluded. These positions appear mutually incompatible.

The Irish border has in many ways become the Achilles heel of the Brexit process. At present, there is no border infrastructure between Northern Ireland and the Republic. EU membership and 20 years of peace have obviated the need for any physical infrastructure on the border. Both sides worry that a hardening of that frontier could undo two decades of political and economic progress, and so are committed to avoiding this outcome. But this severely limits the scope for the U.K. to diverge from the EU.

Johnson’s resignation came three days after the cabinet agreed on a new U.K. position on the future U.K.-EU relationship on July 6, which tries to find a way to solve this riddle. The government’s proposal is to remain in the EU’s market for goods but not for services. Leaving the services market does not create the same border problems, and the government believes, rather ambitiously, that there is scope to liberalize service trade with other economies outside of the EU. Alongside this, it proposes a convoluted customs arrangement under which the U.K. will collect tariffs on the EU’s behalf for all goods that enter the U.K. but are bound for the EU, but apply a (potentially lower) U.K. tariff for goods intended just for the U.K. Again, this complicated process is in part designed to avoid a border in Ireland, while maintaining some freedom of maneuver in trade policy. Critics—coming from both sides—view this as accepting the rules while losing influence over them, while also questioning whether the customs plan is workable in practice.

There are two important things to know about this proposal. The first is that it is the product of a negotiation within the Conservative Party, rather than a negotiation with the EU. May has sought to sketch a form of Brexit which reflects the Leavers’ desire for restored sovereignty and trading independence, with the concerns of Remainers (and business) that the economic dislocation of withdrawal is minimized, all the while preserving the status quo on the island of Ireland. Johnson and Davis’s views could not be accommodated. Many of the more hard-line Brexiteers are angry, but for now May appears to have the support of the majority of her MPs.

The second is that it is very unlikely that this approach, in its current form, will pass muster in Brussels. The EU has its own red lines in this negotiation. Its key principle is that the integrity of the EU’s single market—and the four freedoms (goods, capital, services, and labor) that underpin it—is not undermined. It will interpret the ambition for a single market in goods only to be a form of cherry picking, a selective attempt to retain the benefits of membership without full obligations. EU leaders see the market in more holistic and legal terms, believing its indivisiility is a necessary part of the political balance of the union. Unpick one part, give Britain a special deal, and the whole thing could unravel.

On a more practical level, the European Commission questions whether goods and services can really be separated in the way the U.K. hopes. And while there might be some advantages to the EU of a single market in goods (the EU has a goods surplus with Britain, but a services deficit, and supply chains are integrated across the continent), this does not overcome the political priority of preserving the market. More broadly, EU leaders see a union facing multiple political challenges and divides. In such conditions, preserving unity, and the EU system’s integrity, is paramount.

Where does Brexit go from here? The current government compromise is likely to be diluted further in negotiations in Brussels. The question of how a common rulebook will be governed when the U.K. wants to leave the EU’s legal jurisdiction is not fully answered. The politically sensitive issue of U.K.-EU immigration is likely to create further divisions. The EU may try to nudge the U.K. toward an arrangement comparable to Norway’s, in which it remains fully in the single market, but with an enhanced customs arrangement, which sceptics would view as Brexit in name only. Even with some softening on the U.K. side, it is possible, even likely, that by March 29, 2019, the scheduled departure date, the U.K. and the EU will still only have agreed on the outlines of this future relationship, with the detail to be determined in the transition period afterwards.

Meanwhile, the Brexiteers will need to decide if it is more important for the U.K. to leave in the way they would like, or to leave full stop. Do they accept a less “pure” version of their dream or back a compromise to ensure Britain actually leaves? Michael Gove, another prominent Brexiteer who has remained in the Cabinet, is reported to take the longer view: Get out by March and the relationship can be shaped and evolve in the future. Others take a more hard-line stance, accusing the government of betrayal. They are a minority though, and it is not clear if they are willing or capable of toppling May and unleashing further political chaos.

Such instability seems inevitable at some point in the autumn. There is a crunch EU summit in October. The U.K. and the EU have yet to agree on the form of the so-called “backstop” arrangement, an insurance policy against a hard border in Ireland if other customs systems don’t work. The U.K. has agreed to a backstop, but views the EU’s proposals on this as a risk to the constitutional integrity of the union. And any deal will also need to pass through the U.K. and European parliaments. With a minority government and a sizeable portion of her party opposed, May might seek support from some in the opposition to avoid a calamitous no-deal scenario. In short, Britain’s era of political instability will not end soon.

Thomas Raines is a research fellow and Europe programme manager at Chatham House.

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