The United Kingdom (UK) officially left the European Union (EU) on January 31, 2020, after which the two parties will kick off talks on a new phase of bilateral relations. However, many of the outstanding issues, that are expected to be discussed during the transitional period which will last until the end of 2020, will determine the nature of these relations and whether they will be framed within a cooperation framework leading to a win-win deal, or exit from the transitional phase without a deal.
During the first quarter of 2020, the British economy shrank by 2%, the largest downturn since the 2008 financial crisis. This is despite the fact that the UK only began to implement lockdown measures on March 23, towards the end of the quarter. The UK’s GDP is expected to shrink by 25–25% in the second quarter as a result of lockdown measures implemented in April and May. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that most businesses would gradually be allowed to reopen during the first half of June.
Europe's rift over Iran's nuclear deal continues to persist. While Britain and France take hardline positions, Germany and the EU foreign policy team continue to show understanding of the Iranian stances. However, this rift does not mean that the Iran nuclear deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), will remain unchanged. Other parties to the agreement might follow the U.S. path and withdraw from the deal, without necessarily leading to the collapse of the deal or putting the Iran's nuclear program back on the UN Security Council's table.
Contrary to the Iranian consensus on how to deal with the United States, the Iranian regime appears divided over its relationship with Europe and how to approach the Europeans, amidst a steady decline in Iranian-European relations.
Europe has become the global epicentre of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic since the end of April 2020. Despite the accelerating increase in infections and deaths in February and March in Italy, which was the first and most affected European country by the virus, and even the country with the then highest number of infections globally, the response of the European Union (EU) was extremely slow. At first, EU institutions seemed unaware of the size of the danger threatening its member states. The initial response of the EU was described as awkward, which brought it under severe criticism by the most affected countries such as Italy and Spain. French President Emmanuel Macron warned of the collapse of the EU as a political project if it does not take serious steps to support the economies of the afflicted countries.
The years following the referendum on Britain’s exit from the European Union (Brexit) have revealed that the “European club” is capable, despite the painful Brexit blow, of showing resilience and adeptly facing the British precedent. They have also shed light on imminent questions within the UK regarding the future, unity, stability and nature of the country that the UK aspires to be. The cornonavirus epidemic has raised the challenge to severe levels that have shaken the UK’s reputation in terms of its claim about being capable of resistance alone, without Europe, to fulfil aspirations that its EU membership had prevented.
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