Britain’s exit from the European Union brings with it many challenges. A difficult negotiation process is ahead for Britain and the European Union. Key issues need to be discussed and agreed upon before the two move forward in a relationship with terms that have yet to be defined.
Many things will change after the UK leaves the European Union. Britain was one of the important players in EU policy-making. It held its ground on issues such as EU regulation, financial policy and immigration. Another important area where Britain had a strong opinion was EU sanctions policy.
Economic Sanctions as a Foreign Policy Tool
The European Union uses economic sanctions as part of its diplomatic strategy. In response to actions committed by certain parties, the European Union has used sanctions to put economic pressure on those actors. One instance of the EU using economic sanctions is Iran. In the hope of putting a stop to Iran’s nuclear ambitions, the EU has imposed sanctions on the country. More recently, the European Union decided on sanctions as a response to the situation in the Ukraine. After Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 went down over eastern Ukraine, the EU reacted. To try to put an end to Russia’s actions in Ukraine, the European Union imposed economic sanctions.
A sanctions policy can work as a foreign policy tool. It is more or less efficient and it may or may not yield the results that everyone is hoping for. But over the last decade, sanctions have been widely used by the United States and the European Union. Looking for results that talks and negotiations couldn’t deliver, there are tools at the disposal of policy makers. The European Union uses several types of sanctions, from targeted asset bans to travel freezes to restrictions on certain economic sectors.
Britain Strongly Supported Sanctions
With Britain leaving the European Union, the balance of power in EU policy making is going to change. That is going to affect EU sanctions policy as well. The UK was one of the strongest supporters of economic sanctions at the table. The country used to leverage its political power to get other countries to vote the same way and make sure that the sanctions pass. In order for economic sanctions to go into effect, all member states must vote for that. But Britain is most likely going leave the European Union by early 2019. That will mean a different kind of voting for economic sanctions.
Richard Nephew is with Columbia University now, after working on sanctions policy for State Department. He says that the UK played a major role in the growing use of sanctions policy by the European Union. He also said that the sanctions policy was beginning to be “increasingly efficient and effective”.
Britain defended sanctions against Russia after its interventions in the Ukraine. It was a powerful ally for German Chancellor Angela Merkel and acted as a counterweight to Italy and Greece. That was the UK’s position in Brussels. At home, it showed the same kind of determination. It took action against Russian state-owned firms in the most important financial center in Europe, London. Without Britain, EU sanctions policy could change.
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