Welcome to the new version of European Tribune. It's just a new layout, so everything should work as before - please report bugs here.
Display:
I don't think that's realistic. The UK has become a semi-detached member of the EU for the duration of Theresa May's premiership. She is ignored at Council Summits, and the UK barely takes part in technical negotiations. The EU is wondering what to do with the vacant UK seats in the European Parliament at the 2019 elections.

Allowing the UK to take back the Article 50 notification in the understanding that the principle of Brexit still stands and the UK will be in limbo for 10 years before starting negotiations again would be suicidal for the EU. It is simply not a sustainable situation, and the UK would have another two general elections in that time.

It is absolute madness. The only thing that makes sense is for Britain to withdraw the Art 50 notification altogether, and even then we all know a current parliament cannot bind future parliaments. A commitment to not trigget Art 50 again for a number of years would not be worth the paper it would be written on.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Oct 18th, 2017 at 09:10:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"The only thing that makes sense is for Britain to withdraw the Art 50 notification altogether, and even then we all know a current parliament cannot bind future parliaments."

Isn't that the point?  Any member has an absolute right to invoke A50 any time it wants. Absolute chaos would result if the Council also allowed any member to revoke a notification whenever it felt like it.

This really isn't a legal question, it is a political one. The Council has an absolute right to accept or reject a withdrawal of an A50 notification at it's absolute discretion.

I suggest the Council would have to be convinced that the UK Government really was serious about remaining in the UK and wasn't just using a withdrawal of the letter as a tactic to give itself 2 more years of negotiating time.

And the only way I can see the Council being convinced of that is if a second referendum or a general election was fought and won by a party committed to remaining within the EU.

That still seems a pretty remote prospect, to my mind, and so I didn't include it in my most plausible scenario above.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Oct 18th, 2017 at 10:04:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Allowing the UK to simply withdraw A50 and just pretend the last eighteen months never happened would be suicidal for the EU. What about existing opt-outs, rebates and other concessions for the UK in the EU? What's to stop other EU countries to use the same ploy (no British exceptionalism, please)?.

Should such a revocation ever happen (looks highly hypothetical today), the EU should think and negotiate long and hard, not to "punish" the UK, but for protecting the union from future blackmail tactics.

From a Dutch academic:

Never mind 'hard Brexit', let's talk 'hard remain' - EUObserver

They should stand firm, not out of spite, but to avoid a never-ending wrangling about attempts to maximise special treatment and benefits for the UK within the EU.

Herein lies the danger of even allowing the unilateral revocation of the Article 50 notification to leave the EU.

For instance, after a revocation, the threat of new referendums followed by tedious withdrawal negotiations would be hanging like a sword of Damocles - ready to fall at any moment and cut through the fabric that holds together the EU as an economic and political entity.

Moreover, if this strategy were to work for the UK, what is to stop other disgruntled member state governments from trying the same?

Hence, it would only be consistent to put all British opt-outs and other forms of special treatment on the table, with a view to phasing them out in exchange for letting the UK rescind its withdrawal.

The choice is then a clear-cut one: Have your cake or eat it.

Either Britain can proceed with "taking back control" and become a normal, sovereign state, or it can reassert control within the EU's common institutions and become a normal EU member state.

by Bernard on Thu Oct 19th, 2017 at 12:33:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Brexit will have taken two, maybe three PMs down with it if it's rescinded for no benefit or concessions, only damage to UK.

You think other politicians are going to try that? To what end?

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Oct 19th, 2017 at 03:20:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Of course not. This is why I don't believe in Brexit interuptus.
by Bernard on Thu Oct 19th, 2017 at 05:12:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I do not understand what you were saying then.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Oct 19th, 2017 at 05:18:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think Bernard is saying there can be no return to the Status Quo ante... The only circumstance in which the Council might accept a withdrawal of an A50 notification is if the Government which made the A50 notification is replaced by one which explicitly campaigned for remain in a general election or if a second referendum reversed the result of the first.

An A50 notification can't be allowed to become a negotiating tactic whereby a member state can negotiate better terms of membership for itself, or extend the time available to negotiate a departure.

I think Bernard is going further and saying that even if the Council were minded to accept an A50 revocation, it might impose conditions such as the loss of opt-outs or rebates.

I think that might be seen as being too punitive, and there would be a desire to avoid being seen to exacerbate the humiliation already felt by a member reversing its position.

Nevertheless, I doubt anything the UK said or wanted would carry much influence in EU corridors of power for quite some time after such a reversal. After all, Brexit is basically an attack on the EU27: the UK wanted the benefits without the costs, and someone else was going to have to pick up the costs.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Oct 19th, 2017 at 05:59:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Frank:
I think Bernard is going further and saying that even if the Council were minded to accept an A50 revocation, it might impose conditions such as the loss of opt-outs or rebates.

I think that might be seen as being too punitive, and there would be a desire to avoid being seen to exacerbate the humiliation already felt by a member reversing its position.

Well, it's not me saying this, but the Dutch academic from Leiden University I quoted (read the whole thing BTW).

But I think he has a point: A50 must not become a tool for the UK - or other countries - government to extract better EU membership terms.

It's not a matter of "punitive" or "humiliation": just a matter of protecting the EU member countries against parties who are actively leaving it. Since the UK has blown the house up, the house cannot be unblown. There is a strong argument for not just cancelling A50 and pretend it never happened.

EU27 members patience with the UK is running thin and I don't see much support for an "all is forgiven" Remain, assuming the UK ever goes that way in the first place, especially if the rescindment of A50 only happens once the UK realize they're not getting the deal they were expecting. There will be some frank appraisal: what's the best way forward for each member country and for the EU?

Putting the argument the other way: should the EU27 decide we're all better off with the UK inside the tent pissing out, where do we set the membership terms?
To the concessions granted to Cameron pre-referendum in 2016? Before that point?

No easy answer, but anyway, not much use speculating on something that's not very likely to happen.

by Bernard on Thu Oct 19th, 2017 at 09:29:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Cameron's concessions have to go.

The rebate should go too - though that could happen at the next round of budgeting, when it is due to be "renewed".

But I don't think they should be forced to join the Euro, when we have seen how poorly designed it was.

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi

by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Fri Oct 20th, 2017 at 07:44:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Cameron's concessions "went" with the Brexit referendum result.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Oct 20th, 2017 at 08:36:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But I think he has a point: A50 must not become a tool for the UK - or other countries - government to extract better EU membership terms.

Ok, but I don't see any connection between this and A50 withdrawal and return to the status quo ante. What that will show is that you don't get anything except a stack of ruined political careers and some pretty entertaining economic and social damage for invoking A50.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Oct 20th, 2017 at 08:46:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Are you sure?

The referendum was in June 2016. The A50 letter was delivered in late March 2017. And the "economic and social damage" is only just starting to emerge.

While the euroskeptic parts of the British media and politicians are whipping the Brexit supporters into a frenzy. Christ, reading comments by (some/most) Brexit supporters on British media websites, you´d think they were part of a cult.

Point them (and link) to EU and US databases which show that the EU and the USA don´t trade on WTO terms alone but have dozens of bilateral trade agreements and they will simply ignore the facts. "WTO rules are perfectly alright. It´s how the USA is trading with the EU."

You don´t think that nationalistic governments in the EU are watching this?
If your popularity drops, take a hard stance against the EU. Worked in Britain. Send an A50 letter and revoke the letter 6 - 9 months later.

If it takes 12 - 15 months before any "economic and social damage" is felt, you can run riot for 6 - 9 months.

Not to mention that the Brexit supporters in Britain won´t vanish. You´ll still have a deeply divided country inside the EU after an A50 withdrawal.

Your idea of punishment won´t work!

It´s the politicians who seek a compromise who will be blamed.

Brexit can´t fail, it can only be failed.
"May and Hammond are secret remainers and that´s why Britain won´t get their glorious Brexit."
That seems to be part of the new "dagger in the back" illusion.
If that doesn´t work blame the EU, blame remainers and blame foreigners.

"Brexit means Brexit".
"Red, white and blue brexit."
"Enemies of the people."
"Crush the saboteurs."
"No deal is better than a bad deal."
"Go whistle."

That was intended for British domestic consumption. British politicians don´t seem to realize that such statements get reported in continental Europe too?

by Detlef (Detlef1961_at_yahoo_dot_de) on Sat Oct 21st, 2017 at 07:39:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thank you for an excellent comment which articulates much of what I am trying to say. But you have to understand that British politics and media operates in a bubble where PR spin is everything.

So one day Brexiteers can be advocating the destruction of the EU as some sort of evil empire, and the next day May can be saying she wants a deep and meaningful relationship with "our European friends" and we are supposed to believe her as if Brexit isn't a direct attack on the EU as a whole.  

And then we are supposed to offer the UK all sorts of everything they desire (or have recently decided they want) because that is in "the EU's own best interest" and there is no better authority on what is in the EU's own best interests than the self same people who want to destroy it.

Davis is now going to prepare contingency plans for "a no deal Brexit" to show the EU how serious he is about walking away if the EU don't become "more imaginative and flexible" and give him what he wants.

I think it is only a matter of time before a majority of EU citizens and leaders decide that the UK should have the no deal Brexit so many of it's leaders evidently crave.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Oct 21st, 2017 at 10:57:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
UK excercise of A50 is a test case of EU supranational law and authorities.

Just as "financial stability" of Greece has been a test case of EU supranational law and authorities (Panic of '08 notwithstanding).

Each of these tests is not only an opportunity to define boundaries of authority under color of law by the responses of all interested parties, the are declarations which instantiate the function of EU laws and authorities.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Thu Oct 19th, 2017 at 07:11:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"Hard remain" is withdrawal according to Art 50 followed by accession according to Art 49.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Oct 20th, 2017 at 08:30:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Let's not forget the MEPs and their "veto" power. Frank hasn't given the political groups any role in The Scenario.

73 seats vacated in BREXIT in 2019
Macron to deliver vision for EU democracy in Athens

The first stage concerns the election of some 50 MEPs from transnational lists, beginning with the 2019 elections.

Assuming that Brexit remains on schedule, the UK's 73 European lawmakers would be replaced by around 50, chosen not for their nationality but for their political programme and their party. The aim is to strengthen the European nature of the elections while respecting the European Parliament's principle of degressive proportionality, according to this memo sent by the French government to MEPs.


UK's vacated European parliament seats may go to EU-wide candidates

archived:
Apportionment of EP seats2. When will eurogreen post likely "degressive proportionality" distribution?
EP resolution RC-B8-0237/2017, the "olive branch"
EP plenary session: The government leaders of the EU 27 member states should postpone their assessment of Brexit on 20 October as "sufficient progress" has not been made (557 votes to 92, with 29 abstentions)

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Wed Oct 18th, 2017 at 10:48:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The reason the European Parliament doesn't feature in my scenario is because getting a simple majority for a deal in the parliament should be easy compared to getting a weighted majority or unanimous agreement in the Council. If you can't get a simple majority in the parliament, any deal is probably a non-starter in the Council.

That said, I suspect Farage and co. have made many enemies in the Parliament, and a deal seen as favourable to the UK could have difficulty in passing. As of know the parliament seems to be acting as something of a ginger group seeking to stiffen the resolve of the Commission negotiating team.  Few members owe the UK or its representatives any favours...

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Oct 19th, 2017 at 03:55:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
557 against negotiating a "future relationship" with the UK at this time would be a super-majority.

Now, one may argue that the Clouncil is a liberty to ignore the EP. But that claim requires evidence in fact and law, would it not, in the face of political groups, provoked to undermine a "deeper union"?

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Thu Oct 19th, 2017 at 06:35:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Council isn't at liberty to ignore the EP because any Brexit deal has to be approved by the EP as well as the Council. There isn't a concept of a super majority in the EP, although an absolute majority (376 out of 751 members) is required for budgetary matters and a two thirds majority of those members present as well as an absolute majority is required to censure the Commission. The Commission Brexit negotiating team would have to make a complete mess of the negotiations not to be able to secure a majority in the Parliament.  Getting a weighted majority or unanimity on the Council is a much harder ask.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Oct 20th, 2017 at 04:42:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What is the concept of a plenary session among MEPs, Frank?

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Fri Oct 20th, 2017 at 05:05:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No different from a plenary session anywhere, as I understand it, i.e. all members are entitled to attend.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Oct 20th, 2017 at 05:33:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]

Display:

Top Diaries

The Brexit effect

by Frank Schnittger - Oct 25
20 comments

A Trip to the Woodshed

by Cat - Nov 3
20 comments

Catalonia?

by Frank Schnittger - Oct 28
17 comments

Occasional Series