E3G Brexit Briefings

E3G Brexit Briefings

The British referendum vote to leave the EU has created political chaos in the UK, and a crisis in the EU. In light of this E3G has pulled together a short series of briefings on how this will impact different areas of our work.

Brexit and the EU

The UK’s vote to leave the European Union has been felt by most continental Europeans as a blow, a rejection. But adopting an (ironically) very British attitude – keep a stiff upper lip, mustn’t grumble – European leaders from Paris to Warsaw, as well as the Brussels “eurobubble”, have gotten down to business to define the new face of Europe.

Brexit negotiations

The European Union still stands. The remaining “EU27” will carry on working towards their established objectives of promoting peace, ensuring the wellbeing of their citizens and sustainable development, while redefining their relationship with the UK.

“No notification, no negotiation”. President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker has forbidden Commission staff from holding discussions with representatives from the British Government. Pushing for an “orderly Brexit” the European Parliament calling for a swift withdrawal and asks for the UK presidency of the council, planned for the second half of 20173, to be reassigned to another member state.

A new political balance

The referendum has implications on the balance of political power across Europe, and countries were quick to re-establish their political leadership on the European stage.

Italy, a founding member, would become post Brexit the third economy in the European Union. Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi is already taking a centre stage position, however he faces difficult internal politics.

Central and Eastern European countries, newer to the Union than Western member states, have been concerned by their lack of influence over European decisions and pressure from the refugee crisis. They're pushing for more of a leadership role.

A new Europe?

The results of the referendum are not only testament of the British voters’ anger over the economic crisis, fear over migration, but also a loud call for European reform. This call has been heard by European leaders and institutions.

It will be more important than ever to ensure that short-term-ism doesn’t distract from fundamental issues such as the fight against climate change and the transition to a sustainable and resilient economy. As a strong advocate of a better Europe and of a sustainable and low carbon society, E3G will continue to engage in shaping the future of the UK and the European Union. (Read the full Brexit and the EU briefing here PDF)

Brexit and the Paris Agreement

Brexit does not affect the architecture of the Paris Agreement. The Paris Agreement was agreed multilaterally and has been signed by 177 parties. The multilateral nature of the agreement serves as a safeguard against political disruptions in any one country or grouping.

Brexit will prompt a technical clarification of the UK’s nationally determined contribution (NDC) and its relationship to the EU NDC. There could be an agreement on joint fulfilment if both sides agree to it. There is no mandate for the level of UK ambition to diminish and it will be maintained under current UK law.

However, the upheaval in the EU prompted by Brexit will likely affect EU decision-making timelines and could affect the timeline for EU ratification.

As the EU was already expected to ratify later than others, the timeline for the Paris Agreement entering into force (when 55 countries, covering 55% of emissions have ratified) should not be disrupted.

All countries, the EU and UK included, have agreed to honour the goals agreed in the Paris Agreement, ratify as soon as possible and accelerate a transition towards a zero GHG emissions economy. (Read the full Brexit and the Paris Agreement briefing here PDF)

Brexit and Sustainable Finance

United Kingdom

A mixture of risk and opportunity for the green agenda.

A period of uncertainty will follow: next key decision points to watch will be the UK’s 5th Carbon Budget and the Green Investment Bank (GIB) sale.

European Union

A mixture of risk and also accelerated opportunity in the search for a renewed common EU purpose.

The Brexit process will take time: 27 months minimum – could be as long as 3-4 years. In the meantime EU leaders are already meetings in different groupings to discuss their own response.


Outlook unchanged – what the Germans do will be a key point of influence to watch.

The sustainable finance landscape remains largely unchanged since these are international processes that would need to ‘land’ in national governments and the market.

For those focused specifically on climate action, our headline conclusion is that while a roll back of climate action is unlikely it will also be a much bigger challenge to get the EU will increase its 2030 climate target at the Paris review in 2020. (Read the full Brexit and Sustainable Finance briefing here PDF)


Subscribe to our newsletter