In recent weeks a new EU statistic has started appearing. It was most noticeably used by new EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in her pre-Christmas speech to the EU Parliament.
I have now seen this being repeated, and even being misinterpreted as being about trade deals by some news sites. Below I debunk it.
No trade deal this year, and the UK will lose 700+ international agreements, claims Ursula von der Leyen
But most agreements have no relevance to trade and no relevance to the UK’s post-Brexit interests
Many agreements are with tiny countries and/or are small amendments to existing agreements
Commission President implies a catastrophic loss of international agreements if no trade deal agreed
When speaking to the EU Parliament before Christmas, Frau von der Leyen referred to Brexit, and to the possibility of a “cliff-edge scenario” at the end of this year if no trade deal is reached. Here is what she actually said “In case we cannot conclude an agreement by the end of 2020, we will face again a cliff-edge situation. And this would clearly harm our interests. But it will impact more the UK than us, as the European Union will continue benefitting from its single market, its customs union and the more than 700 international agreements we signed with our partners.”
Ursula von der Leyen, EU Parliament Strasbourg, 18 Dec 201
You can read her full speech here https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/speech_19_6802
In the same paragraph about a future trade deal with the EU and about the EU’s Single Market, Frau von der Leyen explicitly talks about the EU’s 700+ “international agreements”. There is clear intent to imply that over 700 international trade deals will be lost by the UK.
What is the nature of some of these “international agreements”?
Let us delve into the details and a few of many examples of the international agreements to which Frau von der Leyen referred.
Agreement with the Kingdom of Tonga on the short-stay visa waiver
(This was counted several times, for countries such as Vanuatu, Dominica, etc)
Agreement with Seychelles on access for fishing around the French island of Mayotte in the Indian Ocean
Agreement with Lebanon for scientific cooperation in the Mediterranean Area
Do you see where I am going with this?
Does the EU have 700+ international agreements? Yes, it does. Do many of them have any serious relevance to a free and independent United Kingdom post-Brexit? No.
It is my opinion that the new EU Commission President made a clear linkage between a new trade deal with the EU and with these EU agreements as if they both related to trade.
I should just say that I haven't actually checked whether there’s a large British fishing fleet in the vicinity of the remote French island of Mayotte in the Indian Ocean, but somehow I doubt it.
I suspect that readers will see these 700+ EU international agreements referred to again in the course of this year. Forewarned is forearmed, and I feel that this kind of EU propaganda should be knocked on the head before it starts being repeated and gaining credence in the “Remoaner-Rump” community. When see them I will remind relevant people mainly MPs what cobblers this woman is talking about. And I would hope you all do the same
[ Sources: EU Commission ]