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EU’s Full Menu of Non-Brexit Offerings May Ease UK Departure – Bloomberg

The European Union says it has plenty on its to-do list besides managing Brexit. That could prove to be good news for Prime Minister Theresa May as she seeks a smooth U.K. departure from the bloc in March 2019.

The European Parliament, which has veto power over any Brexit agreement, is gearing up for elections in mid-2019 as a slew of other big-ticket items starts to fill the EU agenda. These initiatives, meant to show the bloc’s vigor, will give lawmakers campaign talking points, shift the spotlight from the U.K.’s withdrawal and make it politically easier for the assembly to approve any deal on the terms of Brexit.

“Even before the European elections, an important road map with key decisions is underway,” Maria Joao Rodrigues, a Portuguese vice-chair of the 28-nation Parliament’s Socialist group, said in an interview in her office at the assembly’s headquarters in Strasbourg, France. “While the Brexit negotiations are taking place, the EU is moving ahead with its road map and these two things will go in parallel. This means we’ll have a big-bang moment in 2019.”

The EU’s work program puts a common thread through a wide variety of policy initiatives and creates a counterpoint to Brexit, ensuring the U.K.’s scheduled departure can be viewed in a broader, more positive context for the bloc rather than as an unprecedented wound.

That could be crucial when the time comes for the 751-seat Parliament to give its verdict on any accord between Brussels and London on the divorce settlement, including the multi-billion-euro bill, the rights of EU citizens in Britain and the future border between Northern Ireland and Ireland.

Pro-EU Forces

“There’s an indirect link between any Brexit agreement and the upcoming EU Parliament elections,” said Janis Emmanouilidis, director of studies at the European Policy Centre in Brussels. “People will be looking at the atmosphere in 2019 to see whether the bloc of 27 member countries is progressing. If so, that would play into the hands of pro-European forces and mean any Brexit deal wouldn’t be viewed in isolation.”

EU’s Full Menu of Non-Brexit Offerings May Ease UK Departure – Bloomberg

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