Volume 12 (2017) / Issue 3
Among the responses to the Brexit Referendum result on 23 June 2016 one issue was noticeably absent: the implications from a WTO perspective. Leaders have tried to reassure the world that the UK would be at least as good a WTO Member as during its 43 years under the EU umbrella. Some have argued that, the UK could simply take back its place which it had partly relinquished upon its accession to the EU in 1973. Instead, a UK divorce from the EU will inevitably require a re-balancing of the rights and obligations under the traffic rules of the WTO. Taking the examples of country-specific agricultural import quotas and of farm subsidy limits, it shows that farmers and businesses will find different market access rights after Brexit. Even a remote possibility of impairments will lead other club members to safeguard their own rights when signposts are shifted. The key question then is in the procedure for handling claims of reduced access opportunities: does the consensus principle imply that anybody can block any change in that balance?
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