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"Sufficient progress"

by Frank Schnittger Fri Dec 8th, 2017 at 12:09:45 PM EST

Brexit deal: Main points

The European Commission is to recommend to EU leaders that Brexit talks with the UK move on to the second phase after it deemed "sufficient progress" had been made, including a deal aimed at preventing a hard border in Ireland.

Below are the main points of the new agreement.

  • The agreement promises to ensure there will be no hard border - including any physical infrastructure or related checks and controls - and to uphold the Belfast Agreement in all its parts.

  • It makes clear the whole of the UK, including Northern Ireland, will be leaving the customs union.

  • It leaves unclear how an open border will be achieved but says in the absence of a later agreement, the UK will ensure "full alignment" with the rules of the customs union and single market that uphold the Belfast Agreement.

  • However, the concession secured by the DUP is that no new regulatory barriers will be allowed between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK without the permission of Stormont in the interest of upholding the Belfast [Good Friday] Agreement.

The agreement also covers the rights of EU citizens in the UK and the UK contribution to the EU Budget and outstanding liabilities. The full text is available here. For the purposes of this story, I will limit comment to the section relating to Ireland and N. Ireland.


Reactions to the deal in Ireland have generally been positive:

Mr Varadkar said under the text of this deal "every person in Northern Ireland has the right to Irish and EU citizenship. All they have to do is exercise the right to Irish and EU citizenship."

"This agreement gives Northern Ireland unfettered access to the UK, there will be no new barriers between Northern Ireland the UK unless wanted."

He said Northern Ireland and the UK "will not drift apart".

The text of the new agreement, which has been the subject of intense negotiations since Monday, sets out six commitments in relation to the Island of Ireland.

It says the UK will "maintain full alignment" with EU single market, customs unions rules that support peace, co-operation and economy on the island of Ireland.

In a move which will be welcomed by Irish businesses, the text also says that the next phase of the talks will also address issues arising from "Ireland's unique geographical situation", including the transit of Irish goods through the UK to markets in Continental Europe.

The reaction of the DUP has been more mixed:

However, the Democratic Unionist Party, whose opposition on Monday led to talks breaking down, said "more work" needed to be done and added how it voted on the final deal would "depend on its contents". The party supports Ms's May's government in Westminster. On the insistence of the DUP, the deal says there will be no new customs barriers in future between the North and the rest of the UK.

The Taoiseach said he wanted to assure unionists of his motivations. "There is no question of us trying to exploit Brexit to move toward Irish unity without consent," he said.

If it does not prove possible for the UK to reach agreement on regulatory alignment with the EU, "we will look to the unique circumstances of Northern Ireland, " Ms May told journalists at a press conference in Brussels.

So there is still the possibility of some divergence between N. Ireland and Great Britain, subject the the agreement of the Ireland Executive and Assembly a under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement. This will put some pressure on the DUP and Sinn Fein to actually agree the formation of a N. Ireland Executive.

Article 56 of the agreement provides for a separate strand of the Phase 2 Brexit talks to consider issues distinct to Ireland. This addresses the Irish government's concern that Irish issues will fade into the background and might otherwise receive little attention once the main Phase 2 Trade and transition talks between the UK and EU27 get under way.

Contrary to the assertions of UK "extreme Brexiteer", Brendan O'Neill, Irish people are generally under no illusions that Irish concerns will be centre stage once phase 2 of the Brexit negotiations get under way:

I spent much of my youth asking the British government to butt out of Irish affairs. "Hands off Ireland!", the placards said on our long, lonely marches round Westminster.

Now I find myself in the weird position of pleading with Ireland to stop meddling in British affairs.

"Hands off Brexit!", I want to say to the Dublin political set that has let itself be used as leverage by the EU in its war against the British vote for Leave.

The enthusiasm with which Irish politicians have marched to the EU's tune on Brexit and the border is embarrassing.

The excitable grin on Leo Varadkar's face in every photo of him with Donald Tusk brings to mind the school square overawed that a popular jock said "hi" to him in the hall.

Some in the Irish political class have been made all aflutter by the love-bombing from Brussels. "The EU is fully behind you", said Tusk to the Taoiseach, making Dublin 4 swoon.

It isn't hard to see why Irish politicians have gleefully signed up for the role of albatross around the neck of Brexit that Brussels has written for them.

It has propelled them on to the world stage. It allows them to rise above the latest scandal blighting Irish political life and to appear temporarily statesmanlike.

And yet they're still wrong to cosy up with Brussels. First, because you are being used not to iron out the border issue, but to dent democracy across the Irish Sea.

And secondly - and this really cannot be said often enough - the EU is not your friend. And it will drop you like a bad habit when it becomes convenient to do so.

What looks like Brussels love is really an expedient exploitation of Irish concerns to try to weaken British democracy.

Given that the UK has generally regarded Ireland as its own back yard where it can do what it wants, such concerns are a bit rich. It so happens, as I have argued in previous posts, that Irish and EU interests are aligned on this issue, and without the active and welcome support of the EU we would not have made the progress in these talks that has now been made.

Display:
Fintan O'Toole: Ireland has just saved the UK from the madness of a hard Brexit

"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Fri Dec 8th, 2017 at 02:30:03 PM EST
So UK aligns with the Green Ireland ... nice! :-)

Instead of Brexit we can negotiate a form of Grentry. And the Tories remain at the helm. :-))

Global Warming - distance between America and Europe is steadily increasing.

by Oui on Fri Dec 8th, 2017 at 02:59:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
As with his previous piece, Hard Brexiteers have just discovered Britain is weaker than Ireland, Fintan is a brilliant analyst, but just a little too clear in his analysis for it to create political problems.  The DUP aren't too bright and tend to judge the quality of a proposal in direct proportion to how much it discomfits Sinn Fein and/or the Irish Government. Seeing Fintan herald the Irish Government's achievements is going to make them  (and the hard Brexiteers) see red...

I remain much more pessimistic: The Brexiteers will now do everything they can to discomfit and remove Theresa May, and I doubt any final package she can negotiate will achieve a majority in the current Commons unless some of the Opposition parties also vote in favour. Fintan should remember that "nothing is agreed until everything is agreed".

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Dec 8th, 2017 at 05:06:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
wow, that is brutal, I hope the Guardian re-prints that.

But, as has been revealed in the last week, chaos has been somewhat inevitable. Phillip Hammond, the UK chancellor has revealed that, to avoid a Cabinet split, brexit has never been discussed in Cabinet. At no point did they gameplan what they wanted, what might be reasonable and what would be unacceptable.

Equally, despite David Davis, the Minister in charge of brexit, boasting for 18 months about the 58 extensive impact assessments carried out by his "crack" team, the precis of which had been seen and signed off by theresa May herself, it now turns out that there have been absolutely no impact assessments at all. As I suggested elsewhere, this was more farcical re-imagining of the Monty Python cheese shop sketch than sober Government behaviour.

Still, as somebody once said, "fail to plan, plan to fail".

And they have failed. Utterly. All of the bluster, all of the bullshit about how we were going to walk away and seize a world of opportunity beyond the red-tape boundaries of Europe revealaed as so much fanciful codswallop.

Th Daily Mail and Telegraph must be beside themselves with rage and I can't wait to see the headlines tomorrow.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Dec 8th, 2017 at 05:33:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Not much remains of Theresa May's red lines after the Brexit deal

The first, and biggest, concession is buried in paragraph 49 of the 15-page report published early on Friday morning. Its implications will be anything but quiet in the weeks to come, for it undermines the prime minister's previous insistence that Britain will be leaving the single market.

It states clearly: "In the absence of agreed solutions, the United Kingdom will maintain full alignment with those rules of the internal market and the customs union." In other words, the UK may not be a member of the single market, or have any direct ability to shape its rules in future, but it could yet have to play by them in perpetuity.



"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Fri Dec 8th, 2017 at 05:41:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
the dagger in the heart of brexit.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Dec 8th, 2017 at 05:46:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
...so much fanciful codswallop.

God, I wish I knew what that meant.  I'd like to say it to someone's face and see their reaction.

They tried to assimilate me. They failed.

by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Fri Dec 8th, 2017 at 10:25:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So, according to O'Toole, the endgame is either no Brexit or an agreement to establish a single market between the UK and the Single Market and a customs union between the UK and the Customs Union.
by Gag Halfrunt on Fri Dec 8th, 2017 at 07:27:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
we seem to be heading for the softest of soft brexits; outside of the EU but obliged to follow each and every regulatory change.

Not so much a "red, white and blue brexit", more of a pointless deadbeat Dad kind of brexit.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Dec 8th, 2017 at 07:33:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So the Brexiters have overthrown rule from Brussels in order to be able to establish rule of Brussels.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Fri Dec 8th, 2017 at 10:25:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes but he overlooks an important consideration: The EU doesn't give third parties access to the SM/CU for free. Norway pays dearly for such access - an amount equivalent on a per capita basis to the UK's net contribution for full EU membership. So if the EU doesn't want to undermine its deal with Norway, they will charge the UK something similar. The Brexiteers are hardly going to be happy with educed benefits and no say in future regulation for the same cost.  So a no deal Brexit becomes more likely, in this scenario, simply because the UK is so crap at negotiating a  good deal.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Dec 8th, 2017 at 11:55:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A country humiliates itself during long 18 months to leave everything as before? I doubt Brexiteers will leave at that, but for now there is a clear winner and a clear loser in this story.

In itself, this whole episode proves very well the raison d'être of the EU. The Union functioned as a peacekeeper and a guardian of smaller states.

You might find me At The Edge Of Time.

by Luis de Sousa (luis[dot]a[dot]de[dot]sousa[at]gmail[dot]com) on Fri Dec 8th, 2017 at 08:38:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Net gain for the EU as far as I can see.  The UK has never supported "an ever-closer Union" and has actively worked to halt or undercut every step towards "an ever-closer Union."

(And those are quote marks, not shudder marks.)

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Fri Dec 8th, 2017 at 10:28:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Brexiters have been DUPed...

"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Fri Dec 8th, 2017 at 02:32:05 PM EST
The above piece was written in a rush as I only had a very limited time online earlier today. In time I will write a more considered piece based on the detail of the full agreement which the UK and EU27 have reached. However on a cursory reading, it is well drafted and much more favourable to Irish concerns than we could have hoped.

The problem - as Fintan O'Toole has outlined - is that the UK government is committing itself to a number of things to please both the Irish Government and Brexiteers which are all but mutually contradictory.  I am reminded of Lewis Caroll, Through the looking glass:

"Alice laughed: "There's no use trying," she said; "one can't believe impossible things." "I daresay you haven't had much practice," said the Queen. "When I was younger, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast."



Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Dec 8th, 2017 at 05:22:11 PM EST
Those are no "mutually contradictory" statements in this doc, if indeed the objective of IE gov is to  prevent UK and NI realizing pretexts of necessity --the canard--requiring IE-NI "hard border" to restrict movement of goods to UK headquarters. Press tied UK-EU customs to free NI-IE movement of people, misinforming many speculators about merits of BREXIT talks and misrepresenting both EU and UK consideration offered IE.

The MOU between EU and UK should eliminate ongoing conjecture about NI "special administrative" apparatus and "internal economy," or "island economy," explicitly created by the GFA and only to communicate with IE. Paragraphs 47-51 reiterate, any customs cooperation or dispute to NI-IE ("North-South") and IE-UK ("East-West") diplomacy such as CTA &tc.

47. Cooperation between Ireland and Northern Ireland is a central part of the 1998 Agreement and is essential for achieving reconciliation and the normalisation of relationships on the island of Ireland. In this regard, both Parties recall the role s, functions and safeguards of the Northern Ireland Executive, the Northern Ireland Assembly, and the North - South Ministerial Council(including its cross - community provisions) as set out in the 1998 Agreement. The two Parties have carried out a mapping exercise, which shows that North - South cooperation relies to a significant extent on a common European Union legal and policy framework. Therefore,the United Kingdom's departure from the European Union gives rise to substantial challenges to the maintenance and development of North - South cooperation

48. The United Kingdom remains committed to protecting and supporting continued North-South and East-West cooperation across the full range of political, economic, security, societal and agricultural contexts and frameworks of cooperation, including the continued operation of the North - South implementation bodies.
[...]
50.In the  absence of agreed solutions, as set out in the  previous paragraph, the United Kingdom will  ensure that no new regulatory barriers develop between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom, unless, consistent with the 1998 Agreement, the Northern Ireland Executive and Assembly agree that distinct arrangements are appropriate for Northern Ireland. In all circumstances, the United Kingdom will continue to ensure the same unfettered access for Northern Ireland's businesses to the whole of the United Kingdom internal market.

51.Both Parties [NI gov, UK gov] will establish mechanisms to ensure the implementation and oversight of any specific arrangement to safeguard the integrity of the EU Internal Market and the Customs Union.

What power did IE win, exactly, that it didn't possess already?

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Fri Dec 8th, 2017 at 08:25:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Time is up.

The UK appears to have accepted ("in principle" and on behalf of NI) responsibility to maintain and service customs surveillance of goods entering or leaving its territories and ports anywhere except NI-IE land border.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Fri Dec 8th, 2017 at 09:02:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Brexit negotiations are about damage limitation, at best.  Ireland is doing its best to retain most of the benefits of EU, SM & CU membership in the face of a possible rupture of trading relationships between UK and Ireland - already damaged by Sterling Devaluation - and political and cross-community relationships in N.I.

There are no net winners out of Brexit, only losers, and the battle is over who can reduce the damage most. I doubt even the oligarchs who funded Brexit will gain what they thought they would gain out of Brexit.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Dec 9th, 2017 at 12:03:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Guardian - Owen Jones -  The Tories' pointless Brexit theatrics wasted months. Now for the hard part

Eighteen months of bluster, of "Brexit means Brexit", of "red, white and blue Brexit", of "no deal is better than a bad deal". And for what? Brexit, it turns out, means whatever the EU27 want it to mean. The EU has conceded nothing meaningful; Theresa May's stringent red lines turned out to be easily wiped away. "So much time has been devoted to the easier part of the task," as the EU's Donald Tusk puts it: now a year remains for the hard part.
[....]
But then there's the absolute mother of all concessions. If no way of preventing a hard border in Ireland is discovered, then the UK "will maintain full alignment with those rules of the internal market and the customs union". Have hardcore Brexiteers begun to process these words? As things stand, Britain is heading for long-term de facto membership of the single market and the customs union, even if we are technically in neither, in order to preserve the Northern Irish peace process. We will simply have to observe regulations that we have no power over and no say in making. Taking back control, indeed.



keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Dec 8th, 2017 at 05:39:28 PM EST
Brendan O'Neill is a troll and doesn't deserve links or quotes.

Brexit is proceeding along the only actually possible route: there are only three possible outcomes I can see.

  • Cliff edge fall out of the union with no agreement because UK politics is too screwed up to avoid it. Immensely dangerous outcome, and the only case in which we could end up with a hard border. In this case all bets are off.

  • Cosmetic Brexit, in which the UK stays in structures that uphold all four EU pillars but gives up all influence over the rules. Also know as Bloody Stupid Brexit.

  • No Brexit, after the process eats another couple of PMs, cliff edge is ruled out as being a disaster and Cosmetic Brexit becomes too obviously Bloody Stupid.

This agreement looks like Brexit bullshit being steamrolled under reality. I see no reason to think reality is going to get any kinder.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Dec 8th, 2017 at 05:45:24 PM EST
Brendan O'Neill repeats the Brexiteer canards that the Irish Government/EU elite are disrespecting the democratic wishes of the UK people and trying to reverse Brexit.

The truth is much more nuanced. Yes the Irish Government opposed Brexit (as being against the interests of Ireland) and the EU have said it is a regrettable event and that the Brexit negotiations are, at best, about damage limitation.

However no one is saying the UK can't leave if it wants to.  It is then, however, incumbent on the EU to ensure that the interests of the EU27 are protected in this process. That necessarily includes ensuring that many of the benefits the UK received through membership are now redistributed to the EU27.  That includes relocating EU institutions and providing less favourable access to EU markets. This is going to be a painful process, but the UK "cannot have its cake and eat it," as otherwise, why would others not also leave?

Secondly, the Irish Government is co-guarantor of the Good Friday Agreement, and through it of the rights of Irish citizens in N. Ireland. That agreement was concluded before A50 even existed, and when all parties were committed to "an ever closer Union" which reduced the tensions between communities with conflicting British and Irish identities and aspirations. In addition, N. Ireland voted against Brexit, and the DUP represents only one party amongst many (none of which have formed a government since the last elections).  Brexiteers have always ignored these inconvenient facts, but to expect the Irish government to do so is faintly ridiculous.

Brendan O'Neill's piece is juvenile, at best, and not even wrong, at worst...

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Dec 8th, 2017 at 05:47:53 PM EST
Absolutely hillarious.



You might find me At The Edge Of Time.

by Luis de Sousa (luis[dot]a[dot]de[dot]sousa[at]gmail[dot]com) on Fri Dec 8th, 2017 at 09:16:24 PM EST
Do you Britishy folks have the equivalent of SNL?  I'd love to see skits about this shit but Monte Python is out of business.

They tried to assimilate me. They failed.
by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Fri Dec 8th, 2017 at 10:38:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
currently no.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sat Dec 9th, 2017 at 08:07:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What's the point? How could they compete with May, Johnson, Davis, and the rest of them?
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Sat Dec 9th, 2017 at 05:52:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Look at the great work SNL does on the Emperor and his cohorts.  Or are you saying your real people are funny enough?

They tried to assimilate me. They failed.
by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Sat Dec 9th, 2017 at 09:55:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I managed 2 minutes of that, but that's as much of him as I can bear.

A truly vile man spouting plutocrat-serving corporate bullshit as some sort of everyman pub wisdom.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sat Dec 9th, 2017 at 08:05:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Not even well articulated.  There are a huge number of angles from which a Brexiteer can criticise the deal, but he missed most of them spouting generic Brexiteer slogans instead. He either hasn't studied the deal or had a few pints too many on board.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Dec 9th, 2017 at 11:33:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I read paragraph 49 as saying, "We're kicking the border can down the road somewhere and pretending it's solved."  How long can that bit of fakery survive?
by rifek on Sat Dec 9th, 2017 at 12:35:05 AM EST
49. The United Kingdom remains committed to protecting North - South cooperation and to its guarantee of avoiding a hard border. Any future arrangements must be compatible with these overarching requirements. The United Kingdom's intention is to achieve these objectives through the overall EU - UK relationship. Should this not be possible, the United Kingdom will propose specific solutions to address the unique circumstances of the island of Ireland. In the  absence of agreed solutions, the United Kingdom will maintain full alignment with those rules of the Internal Market and the Customs Union which, now or in the future, support North - South cooperation, the all - island economy and the protection of the 1998 Agreement.

I skipped that paragraph, because it is redundant. The foregoing and final 'graph remove all UK customs surveillance and service to compliance with EU controls, "integrity of the the EU Internal Market and the Customs Union". UK will pay for that --NI-IE slippage and UK export to continent-- in Phase II.

archived:
ring-fencing
"The Impact and Consequences of Brexit for
Northern Ireland
" (Mar 2017) in Brexit Impact Studies

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Sat Dec 9th, 2017 at 01:59:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
DUP crazy remains UK-IE "internal economy" status quo, as it has always been. The "ante" is UK paying for the privilege of maintaining a colony on the island.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Sat Dec 9th, 2017 at 02:05:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You all should read the settlement section of the MOU. Always follow the money, yo.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Sat Dec 9th, 2017 at 02:11:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Seems to me that N.Ireland could end up like Gibraltar, a quaint vestige that will probably fall off with time as whatever original logic for its external rule crumbles to expensive dust.
A luxury The UK (if they end up even calling it that once Scotland secedes) will be ill able to afford indulging in!
Things need to get bad enough to make the Tory party following The Whigs into history's dustbin, but not so bad that a Corbyn government won't be able to resuscitate what's left by then.
A kinder, gentler, but above all humbler future member of Europe and the other nations of the world.


'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Mon Dec 11th, 2017 at 01:05:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
They're kicking the border can down the road and over the border. :)
by Gag Halfrunt on Sat Dec 9th, 2017 at 02:05:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I beg to differ. There is no time constraint to the commitment to regulatory alignment. That is it, for ever. Or until another referendum brings the UK back into the EU.

You might find me At The Edge Of Time.
by Luis de Sousa (luis[dot]a[dot]de[dot]sousa[at]gmail[dot]com) on Sun Dec 10th, 2017 at 11:21:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I agree with you, Luis: the commitment to regulatory alignment is forever, unless an "agreed solution" is found. However, according to the text, if an agreed solution establishing a special status allowed Northern Ireland to remain in the EU, the rest of the UK could leave the Single Market and the Custom Union.  

"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Sun Dec 10th, 2017 at 07:13:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And to give an idea of how confusing everything looks, I give you David Davis, Versions 1.0 and 2.0.  Version 1.0 was Sunday and said the Friday agreement was just a "statement of intent."  Version 2.0 was Monday and said the Belfast Agreement controls everything, but it also said smuggling wouldn't be a problem on the NI/Eire border.
by rifek on Tue Dec 12th, 2017 at 09:50:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
London bows to a new reality
Brussels is famous for its chocolate but, as the deal on phase one of the Brexit talks reminds us, it is also a leading producer of high-grade fudge. The agreement is, in some of its key parts, an exercise in creative ambiguity. A year out from a final agreement, that was inevitable. But what remains vague and contingent on the page should not obscure the three broad trends that the deal underlines.

First, the UK is steadily moving towards the EU27 positions on all key issues. It has conceded on the sequencing of talks, on the principle of a transition period and on the divorce bill, which even ardent Brexiteers now accept will come to around £50 billion. For weeks, the right-wing British press and senior Tory politicians ridiculed the Irish Government for seeking a written pledge from the UK on how it would avoid a hard border in Ireland. Now London has provided one. Brexit is not a negotiation, it turns out, but a slow march towards British acceptance of the weakness of its own negotiating position.

Second, the deal solidifies the impression that contradictions at the heart of the UK's approach - reflecting internal disarray within the British government - will soon reach breaking point. The irresistible logic of the position to which London has signed up on the Border is that it will end up with a soft Brexit, and a trading arrangement that, regardless of its name, looks, feels and functions like the single market and customs union. But that would breach one of the bright red lines London has clung to throughout. How Theresa May can square the circle without bringing down her own government remains an open question.

Third, the deal confirms that the Government, faced with one of the biggest foreign policy threats since Independence, has succeeded in achieving every aim it set itself for the first phase of the Brexit talks. The Common Travel Area between Ireland and Britain will remain. The Belfast Agreement will be upheld. The rights of Irish - and therefore EU - citizens in Northern Ireland will not be compromised. And now a firm commitment that a hard Border will not be imposed. Indeed, the DUP's intervention this week may have delivered Dublin a better deal. Last Monday the discussion centred on Northern Ireland remaining inside the trading and customs blocs. By Friday it was the entire UK that pledged to remain "fully aligned" with the Republic's regime. Given the volume of east-west trade, that would be a much better outcome.

In reality, this "new reality" has been visible to careful observers from day one, and we are only at the beginnings of the foothills to the mountains that still have to be climbed. The various particular concerns of the other 26 members of the EU will only now come fully into play.  Gibraltar, anyone? Jersey? The financial services industry? The airline and aerospace industries? Eastern European states miffed at avenues of continued emigration being cut off? The Elgin Marbles?

We have reached the end of the beginning.  But is this also the beginning of the end?

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Dec 9th, 2017 at 11:54:06 AM EST
Just to note that the agreed text is very far from guaranteeing EEA membership. Free movement of services, capital and people seem not to be included.

You might find me At The Edge Of Time.
by Luis de Sousa (luis[dot]a[dot]de[dot]sousa[at]gmail[dot]com) on Sun Dec 10th, 2017 at 11:24:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The UK have now committed themselves to looking for the equivalent of SM/CU membership without the concomitant requirement for free movement of goods, services, capital and people and without even showing an awareness that Norway pays dearly for such membership. Phase 2 will involve a gradual, painful, and slow realisation that there is no way the EU can grant this without undermining its own raison d'etre.

This is my main reason for believing a significant Brexit deal is unlikely.  The Irish government will be trying to salvage what they can from this MOU/Phase 1 deal in a no deal or minimal deal scenario. The dénouement is going to be brutal: the EU26 haven't even begun to assert their own vital national interests and this is before the EU asserts its own vital interest in cohesion and survival.

The EU will keep its cake, and the UK can look elsewhere for cake if its not prepared to pay for it.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Dec 10th, 2017 at 11:41:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, I don't think the EU has much room for maoeuvre:

Global powers lobby to stop special Brexit deal for UK

One EU source close to the talks said: "We have been approached by a number of [non-member] countries expressing concerns and making it clear that it would constitute a major problem for them if suddenly the UK were to get better terms than they get."

The official said that once the UK is out of the single market and customs union in March 2019, there could be no replication of the terms of the current trading relationship, or anything close to it, and no special treatment.

"It is not just an indication of some strange rigid principle. It is because things won't work," he said.

"First and foremost we need to stick to this balance of rights and obligations, otherwise we will be undermining our own customs union and single market. Second, we cannot upset relations with other third countries," the official said.

"If we were to give the UK a very lopsided deal, then the other partners with whom we have been engaging and who entered into balanced agreements would come back and question those agreements."



"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Sun Dec 10th, 2017 at 06:56:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The EU has no room for manoeuvre at all. It's too big and too tied into the international infrastructure. They can't accommodate any of the bullshit the Brexit crowd are spewing, so they won't.

A Canada deal isn't possible in the context of the GFA, so that can't happen either.

No deal will destroy the U.K., so that can't happen either, except by accident, and won't last if it does.

Thus Norway.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Sun Dec 10th, 2017 at 07:08:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The question is how the U.K. political system comes to understand the situation.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Sun Dec 10th, 2017 at 07:09:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Is Norway content with its deal with the EU?
England could learn a lot from Norway.
Like how to get over your post-Empire self!

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Mon Dec 11th, 2017 at 03:28:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I doubt Norway is content, and if the UK gets a better deal Norway will demand the same for itself.  The EU have to factor in such considerations every time they make an offer to the UK.

The EU has just concluded a draft trade deal with Japan. It includes services, so the UK will undoubtedly want that. But it goes beyond EU competencies and so will have to be approved separately by each member state, plus some regional Parliaments like Wallonia. Good luck with that.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Dec 11th, 2017 at 03:49:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
My sense is that Norway is ambivalent but essentially contented.  Norwegians may bitch a bit about the cost and lack of input, but they don't really want to lose what they have, nor do they want to get any closer.  And that really is a pretty Norwegian point of view about much of life.
My impression of the British, particularly the leavers, no doubt unjustified, is that being the centre of the universe is of somewhat more importance.  I can't see the British being satisfied with just being left alone, but I only know what I read in the funny papers, and here if I need another chuckle or two.
by Andhakari on Mon Dec 11th, 2017 at 03:56:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks for this!

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Dec 11th, 2017 at 03:59:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think that brexiteer views are far more multi-stranded.

One of the difficulties now we are in this situation is that every leaver's view of brexit seems to be quite different from that of even their closest allies. That's probably the main reason that the Cabinet have never dicsussed brexit, what sort fo deal they want or even strategies on how to get there. The idea that there is a consistent idea of brexit is a fallacy.

At times Johnny Rotten seems to have summed brexit up best;-

"Don't know what I want
but I know how to get it
wanna destroy and I wanna be anarchy"

And that's the problem, they know what they don't like, be it red tape, regulations, people with funny accents, coloured people taking our jobs etc etc. But they don't know what they want instead. So, while they work that one out, they seem to believe that leaving the EU, whatever it means in their own mind, is the solution to every nagging issue they personally have with the 21st century.

I'm pretty sure that David Davis still believes that we're going to end up much as we are now, but without immigration, regulation or an annual bill. I really can't see that happening, it's not in the EU's own interests to let that happen, let alone the affront to holders of other treaties. But while we have dlusional incompetents in charge, it will continue to be a shitshow of monumental proportions

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Dec 11th, 2017 at 04:30:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Point 3 of this article is to emphasize that IE gov has accomplished its goal which narrowly construed "hard border" as movement of people between NI-IE restricted by the UK after the withdrawal date. Two international treaties control travel restrictions, CTA (IE-UK) and GFA (IE-UK(NI)), in the absence of Lisbon et al (UK-EU27).

This response to the MOU focuses on the point that ties to UK-EU trade "deal" commitments are spurious press. The contents of the section do no pertain to trade in goods.

EU and IE negotiators succeeded in compelling UK to accept "alignment with those rules of the [EU] Internal Market and the Customs Union" which require free movement of EU27 nationals including but not limited to Irish nationals residing in the Republic OR NI; and resolve any impediment to guarantee "North-South cooperation" that may arise within UK "internal customs and union", ie. the CTA's long-standing patronizing, discriminatory credential rules require update as much as DUP tyranny in NI ministerial council.

To the extent current or future UK gov honors this dimension of the Withdrawal Agreement, the EU will entertain UK petitions for trade partner status. Of course UK gov is not to be trusted though, most observers can agree by now.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Sun Dec 10th, 2017 at 09:18:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]



Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Dec 9th, 2017 at 03:22:45 PM EST
The Norway option. Hmph.
by asdf on Sat Dec 9th, 2017 at 09:00:03 PM EST
seems like the EU read the UK press: Who knew?

Guardian - David Davis has damaged trust in UK, says Verhofstadt

David Davis's claim that the UK's concessions in an agreement to move on the Brexit negotiations were merely a statement of intent has damaged trust and will see a hardening of positions in Brussels, the European parliament's coordinator, Guy Verhofstadt, has said.

The former Belgian prime minister claimed the Brexit secretary's comments over the weekend were "unacceptable", and undermined confidence in the British government's trustworthiness.

The member states will now agree a tougher wording in their guidelines about the next stage of the talks, due to be signed off at a summit of leaders on Friday, Verhofstadt said.



keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Dec 12th, 2017 at 01:30:59 PM EST
@DavidDavisMP tweets:

Pleasure, as ever, to speak to my friend @guyverhofstadt - we both agreed on the importance of the Joint Report. Let's work together to get it converted into legal text as soon as possible. 1/2

I look forward to working closely with the EP in the next phase, including on a top shared priority: ensuring admin procedures for citizens are as streamlined as possible in both the UK and EU. 2/2
@guyverhofstadt
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Dec 12th, 2017 at 02:00:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The joke about Davis being such a brilliant negotiator that he'll be signing the UK up for Schengen and the Euro be this is finished is looking less and less funny.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Dec 12th, 2017 at 02:10:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Maybe even driving on the right side of the road....
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Tue Dec 12th, 2017 at 02:55:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Gosh, do you think the continentals can be persuaded to change?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Dec 12th, 2017 at 03:05:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm middle of the road on this issue...

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Dec 12th, 2017 at 10:26:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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