Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
The European Commission hasn't so much dismissed the content of the UK paper as refused to engage with it until the initial three topics for negotiations have been progressed, seeing the paper as attempting leapfrog the first phase into the substance of the trade negotiations the UK so dearly wants to address as a matter of priority.

European Commission pours cold water on UK's Brexit paper on North

The European Commission has poured cold water on the UK's Brexit negotiating paper on Northern Ireland by reminding it that, in the words of the EU's chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, "frictionless trade is not possible outside the single market and customs union".

The idea of leaving both the single market and customs union but of maintaining an "infrastructure-free" Border at Newry was a central thrust of the UK paper published on Wednesday, but it remains in the eyes of both Irish and EU officials an unrealistic expectation.

In its brief response to the British paper, a spokesman for the commission said that such trade issues would only be a matter for the second phase of negotiations once "sufficient progress" had been made on the withdrawal issues in the ongoing phase-one discussions.

However the Commission will also be wary of being seen as offering the Irish a less advantageous position than the UK.  In due course, I would expect it to respond with an offer of retaining Northern Ireland within the customs Union and the Single Market, an offer which would be unacceptable to the DUP as it would entail moving the EU/UK border into the Irish Sea.

The UK cannot be seen as accepting such an offer without losing the support of the DUP although I suspect London couldn't care less... Thus I expect the resolution of the matter to be one of the very last things to be agreed if the negotiations do reach ab agreement.

By then, I would expect the Tory government to be resigned to losing the support of a majority in Parliament anyway - some hard line Brexiteers and the DUP will jump ship when they see the content of the proposed deal. Labour will also reject a "Tory deal" which is obviously less advantageous than the status quo.

May will then go to the country, just before the March 2019 deadline, "to give the nation the choice" of a no deal or European Commission deal Brexit. It is almost impossible to predict which she will campaign for - the deal negotiated by her Brexiteer Ministers or a no deal Brexit, but I suspect the latter on the grounds that the obduracy of the Brussels bureaucrats and the will of Parliament has given her no choice.

Labour will campaign on achieving an extension of the A50 period and re-opening negotiations with a different set of priorities and demands. The Tories will scoff at the "unrealism" of the Labour demands which will be greeted with a weary shrug an a distinct lack of enthusiasm by the EU Council.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Aug 18th, 2017 at 08:48:33 AM EST
If May loses the DUP's support, I guess it will be a general election. With Labour running on re-negotiation, Lib-dems on retracting A50, question is if anyone will be running on the negotiated result or if it's just a deliberate waste of time.
by fjallstrom on Fri Aug 18th, 2017 at 11:36:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I am leaning more and more to the view that the UK is only going through the motions of negotiating a deal with Brussels with an expectation that whatever they negotiate will leave a majority of Parliament unhappy with the outcome - the DUP and Hard core Brexiteers because of the compromises it contains, and most of the rest because the outcome is clearly less advantageous than the status quo.

The Tories would far rather negotiate with their "equals" - Merkel and Macron - in any case, rather than with some hated Bureaucrats in Brussels.  So their playbook will read: reject bad deal offered by Brussels, go to the country offering no deal but with a promise to negotiate a better one with Merkel afterwards, all the while ridiculing Labour for believing Brussels will ever offer a better deal.

In the meantime Brussels will fold its arms and patiently await the outcome of the election. If the Tories win, it's a no deal Brexit in March 2019, and very little prospect of any substantial deal afterwards - other than possibly an extension of "Open Skies" and Interpol cooperation.

If Labour win (more likely), the Commission will politely await their proposals for a different kind of deal, and perhaps be surprised that the Labour proposals include many ideas they are happy to explore further. But whether the European Council would be prepared to unanimously offer an extension of the A50 period is anyone's guess.  Mine would be a very limited extension, perhaps 3-6 months, after which time a new Brexit deal will be agreed - one which both the Commission and mainstream opinion in the UK are much happier with.

The DUP will be history, Northern Ireland (and perhaps the whole of the UK) will remain in the Single Market and Customs Union, regulatory equivalence will be agreed thus limiting non-tariff barriers, and little will change except that the UK will have to abide by EU regulations while having little influence on their ongoing development.  An annual fee for market access will be agreed at a level slightly less than the current net UK contribution to the EU together with a relatively small once off contribution.  

The UK will be free to pursue an independent foreign policy (as a vassal of the US) but not with an independent trade deal negotiating role. Everyone will agree the deal is better than what the Tories negotiated, but worse than the status quo. But with the A50 period having elapsed, agreement is in the gift of every single EU27 member and so most will be happy that at least some benefits have been salvaged.  The UK will deliberately diverge from EU foreign policy to emphasize its new found Sovereign independence and no one else will give a damn.

And everyone in the EU will breath a sigh of relief that the whole sorry fiasco of UK EU membership has finally ended.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Aug 18th, 2017 at 01:17:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
that sequence of events makes an awful lot of sense, except that there is no sense whatsoever in the brexit negotiations from the UK and so it will not happen.

I suspect that the weak link is that May will go to the country before the A50 process is over. I guarantee that will never happen. The only way they're going for an election within the next 4 years is if they lose a vote of confidence, which means that the DUP ust abandon them. And for that to happen, the Tories would have to negotiate the Customs union/EU border to Belfast. Which, being the only solution that can possibly work, is politically impossible.

Ireland was completely ignored during the brexit campaign, but I think it is the reef on which it might sink

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sun Aug 20th, 2017 at 04:57:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I can't see how May can survive as the A50 process comes to an end. Either she negotiates a deal which hard Brexiteers will hate causing them to oppose it in Parliament leading to her defeat, (No deal is better than a bad deal!), Or she will reject the outcome of negotiations and lose the support of a handful of Tories fearful of a cliff edge Brexit and who will argue (rightly) that the referendum campaign never gave anyone a mandate for a no-deal Brexit.

From an EU perspective, no one owes May anything. She hasn't built a friendly relationship with anyone. So why would they give her a good deal she will simply crow over and claim that she has her cake and is eating it at the hapless EU's expense? This is now a zero sum game, and the issue is to ensure the other side loses more. And getting an A50 extension is a non-starter unless a deal is very close or unless an election causes the EU to pause to see what any new government will do.

So the EU will play hardball and support Ireland's claim not to have customs controls on the Border (for a limited period - pending implementation) in compensation for throwing it to the wolves otherwise.  There will be a "double doors" customs solution with Irish Customs at air and sea ports charged with implementing tariffs for any goods originating in the UK. Private or small business cross border trade within Ireland will be ignored and only large businesses charged with implementing despatch and receipt controls on any cross-border traffic.

This will help deal with internal production/supply chain issues where the same goods can cross the border several times - allowing those businesses to net off goods going one way on the way back. VAT returns and and BEPS require similar system controls. It could mean that agricultural produce like milk could travel to the North for further processing into butter/cheese/Baileys and onward despatch to Britain. Whether the UK will chose to control that trade is their business (opposed by the DUP!), but any food coming into Ireland via the North will be controlled by Certificate of origin controls - so US genetically modified produce will not be allowed onto the shop shelves. Most Irish food is now traceable to farm level for disease/quality control purposes in any case.

Five Supermarket chains dominate almost all Irish food retailing - Supervalue/Centra (Musgraves), Dunnes Stores, Tesco, Aldi and Lidl. They are already required to label food with country of origin etc. It should be relatively easy for Customs to ensure any non-EU food coming in via N. Ireland has paid the appropriate tariff by having a customs officer stationed at their distribution centres. They already have customs officers stationed within the fermentation process in Guinness.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Aug 20th, 2017 at 07:03:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]


Top Diaries

Occasional Series