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United EU Negotiating mandate and a United Ireland within EU

by Frank Schnittger Sat Apr 29th, 2017 at 04:23:47 PM EST

Brexit summit: EU accepts united Ireland declaration

EU leaders have agreed Northern Ireland will automatically become part of the European Union if its people vote to join a united Ireland in a future Border poll.

At a summit in Brussels which concluded shortly before 3pm (Irish time) on Saturday, the leaders of the 27 remaining EU states also unanimously approved guidelines for how the bloc will conduct its Brexit negotiations with the UK

Brexit summit: EU accepts united Ireland declaration

European Council president Donald Tusk said the summit had approved the guidelines in less than a minute - a detail intended to emphasise the unity of the remaining EU-27 in advance of the negotiations with the UK.

"The most important thing to come out of today is the unity of the European Council," European Parliament president Antonio Tajani said, while officials stressed that the summit had progressed as expected.

The declaration regarding Ireland paves the way for Northern Ireland to automatically become part of the EU if it ever wished to join the Republic in a United Ireland.

The declaration, known in Brussels as the "Kenny text", says: "The European Council acknowledges that the Good Friday Agreement expressly provides for an agreed mechanism whereby a united Ireland may be brought about through peaceful and democratic means.

"In this regard, the European Council acknowledges that, in accordance with international law, the entire territory of such a united Ireland would thus be part of the European Union."

The people of Northern Ireland now have a straight choice: to be part of a United Kingdom outside the EU or a United Ireland within the EU. I don't expect the majority unionist community to opt for a United Ireland any time soon, but they at least now have a clear choice. And should Brexit turn out to be the disaster I expect, the balance of their political preferences may change somewhat in future years.

As head of the European Council - the highest decision-making body of the EU, made up the heads of governments of all members states - Mr Tusk has described the priorities of the EU side as being "people, money and Ireland".

By this he meant that the first phase of the talks with the British must deal with the rights of EU citizens resident in the UK (and of British citizens resident in the EU), the size of the bill that Britain must pay for ongoing liabilities (EU programmes to which it has committed, pensions of British EU officials, etc) and the position of Northern Ireland and its Border with the Republic.

Only once these questions have been resolved will the EU begin discussions with the UK on the nature of their future relationship, which will include the shape of any trade deal.

The trade element of any future relationship is especially important to Ireland given its close economic ties with the UK, but also because any tariffs between the UK and the EU would have to be enforced on the Irish Border.

The degree of unanimity being displayed by the EU 27 has been quite remarkable, and must fill UK negotiators with foreboding. The full text of the EU27 negotiating guidelines is available here. They make no concession to the UK's desire to commence trade negotiations in parallel with the withdrawal negotiations and emphasize that any such trade agreement can only be concluded once the UK is no longer a member of the EU.

Spain has a veto on any agreement that applies to Gibraltar and bilateral agreements between Cyprus and the UK (in relation to Sovereign Base areas) and Ireland and the UK will be recognised insofar as they are compatible with EU law. The transfer of EU agencies currently situated within the UK is asserted to be exclusively a matter for the EU 27 even though the UK had indicated it wanted to discuss their future within the context of the A50 negotiations.

The guidelines are also quite explicit that no Brexit deal can offer the same benefits as EU membership:

European Council (Art. 50) guidelines for Brexit negotiations

18. The European Council welcomes and shares the United Kingdom's desire to establish a close partnership between the Union and the United Kingdom after its departure. While a relationship between the Union and a non Member State cannot offer the same benefits as Union membership, strong and constructive ties will remain in both sides' interest and should encompass more than just trade.

Thus without drama or histrionics, the EU has set the scene for a very difficult set of negotiations for the UK.

How Ireland achieved a crucial Brexit coup
The Taoiseach was careful to avoid any hint of triumphalism at the end of Saturday's special EU summit on Brexit in Brussels, describing the adoption by European leaders of negotiating guidelines as "an important milestone" at the beginning of "a long and difficult process".

But the guidelines represent an important achievement for Ireland, identifying the future of the Border, the peace process and the Common Travel Area among the EU's priorities in its forthcoming negotiations with the UK.

"We in Ireland have essentially converted our hopes into European hopes and aspirations and I don't think we could have wished for such a good start. But it's only a start," said Minister of State for European Affairs Dara Murphy.

The prominence of Ireland's issues in the EU's guidelines, including a statement guaranteeing that Northern Ireland could automatically rejoin the EU as part of a united Ireland, is the product of an unprecedented political and diplomatic effort that began even before the UK voted to leave the EU.

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by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Apr 30th, 2017 at 07:50:11 AM EST
Then Phil Hogan went to a funeral. The EU agriculture commissioner's staff in Brussels were surprised when he told them he was travelling to Orléans to attend the funeral of Xavier Beulin, a French farmers' leader.

They seemingly didn't understand the irresistible attraction of such events for an Irish politician.

At the funeral, Barnier greeted Hogan at the cathedral and introduced him to a succession of top French politicians, including Nicolas Sarkozy and Emmanuel Macron.

Hogan and Barnier bonded, and the Irish commissioner managed to open other doors at the Berlaymont for his colleagues in Dublin.

The European Commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker, and his powerful chief of staff Martin Selmayr also proved to be sympathetic to the Irish cause.

Mr Murphy stresses the importance of personal relationships in the campaign, the cultivation of which is a traditional strength of Irish diplomacy.

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by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Apr 30th, 2017 at 07:55:54 AM EST
Britain's Brexit denial - Politico

EU leaders expressed mounting alarm Friday that U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May and her team are in a dangerous state of denial about the consequences of leaving the bloc.


One EU diplomat, asked how things went at the dinner in London, said: "Badly. Really badly." The diplomat added: "That's what I think we have ... a possible scenario of great difficulty."

Pressed on different views of the U.K.'s financial obligations, the diplomat said: "I'm not going to tell you their number, because you are going to laugh."

The diplomat's overall verdict on the Brits? "They are in a different galaxy."

Another EU diplomat briefed on the dinner said that it was tense, in part because May voiced her opposition to the EU's insistence on strictly phased negotiations, in which there must be "substantial progress" on settling the terms of withdrawal before turning to the framework of a future relationship.

The U.K. wants the future relationship, anchored by a robust free trade agreement, on the table from the start.

"It didn't go well," the diplomat said. "She does not accept the two-phased sequencing. She wants both."

by Bjinse on Mon May 1st, 2017 at 06:40:22 AM EST
One of the best short articles on the forthcoming negotiations I have read...

Brexit negotiations will be brutal, nasty and potentially short.

Both sides have now staked out their initial Brexit negotiating positions. The UK, via Theresa May's key speeches and article 50 letter, wants to retain all the benefits of the single market while avoiding all of its obligations. This is dressed up in the form of a request for a "comprehensive free trade deal" while insisting on no free movement of people, a withdrawal from the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice and a "bonfire of regulations". This, presumably, is the UK government's way of putting flesh on the original idea of "having cake and eating it".

Unusually, the EU's response has been simple, firm, coherent and unified. The UK must be worse off after it leaves. There will be no sectoral approach to free trade, no cherry picking of any kind. The rights of citizens are central to the EU's sense of itself and must be protected. These are ideas that just irritate the average Tory cabinet minister.

If there is to be a free trade agreement it will not be like - it will be inferior to - the one the UK has at the moment: that's the single market. So, if there is to be a negotiated settlement it will revolve around the issue of how much harm is to be inflicted on the UK economy. Seen in this light, it is easy to see how the negotiations are likely to be brutal, nasty and potentially very short.

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by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon May 1st, 2017 at 10:58:57 AM EST
Brexit negotiations will be brutal, nasty and potentially short.
I doubt whether many of those European leaders meeting over the weekend know or care much about English history. But the words of Oliver Cromwell to the Rump Parliament would probably resonate: "You have sat too long for any good you have been doing lately . . . depart, I say and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go!" British politicians often quote Cromwell: Leo Amery did it when trying to force Neville Chamberlain's resignation at the start of the second World War, the single event that gave birth to what is now the EU. It is beyond ironic, in so many different ways, that Europe simply wants the British to go.  

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by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon May 1st, 2017 at 11:08:40 AM EST
"Europe simply wants the British to go."

Somewhere during that final paragraph Jones went off the rails, and went on to crash a barn.

Firstly, it's not Europe, it's the EU, you European islander. Secondly, it was not the EU that pushed a referendum on whether the UK should leave the union.

The one positive upshot of the EU spending time, effort and precious resources on figuring out what it means for a EU-country to abandon the EU and the EEA is that all EU27 leaders appear to gain some much needed appreciation of the worth of actually having an union.

by Bjinse on Mon May 1st, 2017 at 11:53:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Chris Johns
" Chris Johns was most recently Chief Investment Officer for global fundamental equities, State Street Global Advisers (SSgA). Previously he was CEO of Bank of Ireland Asset Management until the sale of that business to SSgA. He has worked in financial services, mostly asset management and investment banking, since April Fool's day 1986. Prior to that he was an economist, working in the UK Treasury and the National Institute of Economic & Social Research in London. He also taught economics in London and Cambridge Universities.

During the period 2002 - 2012 he was an appointed member of the Welsh Assmbly Government's Economic Research Advisory panel. (He grew up in Cardiff)."

"Europe" is UK shorthand for anything beyond the channel. He is referring to the post referendum political climate in the EU, not commenting "who started it".

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by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon May 1st, 2017 at 01:29:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Actually I think he's nailed the sentiment of the average European : UK voters wanted a unilaterally-acrimonious divorce, and now they are bickering vindictively about who gets the breadknife -- so piss off, already.

This is a different thing from anyone's rational political opinion; but of course, there is nothing rational about Brexit.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Mon May 1st, 2017 at 02:46:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
FAZ report on Juncker's Downing Street dinner

Just watch the British press ignore this bombshell, conscientiously leaked by Brussels insiders. It's a hoot. How different the election would be if people were informed of the issues.

The rest of Cliffe's tweet string :

1) May had said she wanted to talk not just Brexit but also world problems; but in practice it fell to Juncker to propose one to discuss.

  1. May has made clear to the Commission that she fully expects to be reelected as PM.

  2. It is thought [in the Commission] that May wants to frustrate the daily business of the EU27, to improve her own negotiating position.

  3. May seemed pissed off at Davis for regaling her dinner guests of his ECJ case against her data retention measures - three times.

  4. EU side were astonished at May's suggestion that EU/UK expats issue could be sorted at EU Council meeting at the end of June.

  5. Juncker objected to this timetable as way too optimistic given complexities, eg on rights to health care.

  6. Juncker pulled two piles of paper from his bag: Croatia's EU entry deal, Canada's free trade deal. His point: Brexit will be v v complex.

  7. May wanted to work through the Brexit talks in monthly, 4-day blocks; all confidential until the end of the process.

  8. Commission said impossible to reconcile this with need to square off member states & European Parliament, so documents must be published.

  9. EU side felt May was seeing whole thing through rose-tinted-glasses. "Let us make Brexit a success" she told them.

  10. Juncker countered that Britain will now be a third state, not even (like Turkey) in the customs union: "Brexit cannot be a success".

  11. May seemed surprised by this and seemed to the EU side not to have been fully briefed.

  12. She cited her own JHA opt-out negotiations as home sec as a model: a mutually useful agreement meaning lots on paper, little in reality.

  13. May's reference to the JHA (justice and home affairs) opt-outs set off alarm signals for the EU side. This was what they had feared.

  14. ie as home sec May opted out of EU measures (playing to UK audience) then opted back in, and wrongly thinks she can do same with Brexit

  15. "The more I hear, the more sceptical I become" said Juncker (this was only half way through the dinner)

  16. May then insisted to Juncker et al that UK owes EU no money because there is nothing to that effect in the treaties.

  17. Her guests then informed her that the EU is not a golf club

  18. Davis then objected that EU could not force a post-Brexit, post-ECJ UK to pay the bill. OK, said Juncker, then no trade deal.

  19. ...leaving EU27 with UK's unpaid bills will involve national parliaments in process (a point that Berlin had made repeatedly before).

  20. "I leave Downing St ten times as sceptical as I was before" Juncker told May as he left

  21. Next morning at c7am Juncker called Merkel on her mobile, said May living in another galaxy & totally deluding herself

  22. Merkel quickly reworked her speech to Bundestag to include her now-famous "some in Britain still have illusions" comment

  23. FAZ concludes: May in election mode & playing to crowd, but what use is a big majority won by nurturing delusions of Brexit hardliners?

  24. Juncker's team now think it more likely than not that Brexit talks will collapse & hope Brits wake up to harsh realities in time.

  25. What to make of it all? Obviously this leak is a highly tactical move by Commission. But contents deeply worrying for UK nonetheless.

  26. The report points to major communications/briefing problems. Important messages from Berlin & Brussels seem not to be getting through.

  27. Presumably as a result, May seems to be labouring under some really rather fundamental misconceptions about Brexit & the EU27.

  28. Also clear that (as some of us have been warning for a while...) No 10 should expect every detail of the Brexit talks to leak.

30/30) Sorry for the long thread. And a reminder: full credit for all the above reporting on the May/Juncker dinner goes to the FAZ.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Mon May 1st, 2017 at 02:13:00 PM EST
May is making Neville Chamberlain look like Bismarck.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Mon May 1st, 2017 at 03:11:34 PM EST
EU raises UK Brexit bill to €100bn as Paris and Berlin harden stance
The EU has raised its demand for Britain's Brexit bill to an upfront gross payment of up to €100 billion, according to Financial Times analysis of new demands driven by France and Germany.

Following requests from member states, EU negotiators have revised their initial calculations to maximise the liabilities Britain is asked to cover, including post-Brexit farm payments and EU administration fees in 2019 and 2020.

Although the final net bill would be lower than the €100 billion upfront settlement, the more stringent approach to UK obligations significantly raises the estimated €60bn charge mentioned by Jean-Claude Juncker, European Commission president. It also reflects the hardening position of many EU members, which have dropped reservations about the political risks of the bill to pile on demands to help plug a Brexit-related hole in the bloc's common budget.

The task of the UK's "Bloody difficult women" just got a little bit harder.  Two can play hardball, but it's generally the bigger and more skillfull team which wins.

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by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed May 3rd, 2017 at 08:19:34 AM EST
Good for Ireland to get the possible re-unification in witing, though with the precendent set by Germany it should be a given.

Looking at the preparations on both sides, I think it looks up to the EU if there will be an agreement at all. The UK side seams unprepared, both when it comes to what they want to get out of the negotiations, and the practicalities of getting this deal to the finishing line. Essentially, I think each part of the negotiations will be EU drafting a proposal, and UK tinkering with the margins. Still, UK should be able to get a decent deal based on deals that other surrounding states has. There is no clear advantage for the EU in pressing UK to accept a worse deal then say the EES-treaty (that the remnants of EFTA has).

The EU also has an interest in being seen as fair, both for the sake of domestic opinions in EU27, and for its legitimacy of the EU level versus movements that wants to exit the EU. But I don't think that really matters here, because I think the EU is institutionally bad at PR management. It is more that it ight look fair, if the culture of negotiations in the EU is targetted at getting deals everyone can live with (and I think it is).

The main hurdles for a deal is, I think, UKs inability in prioritising what they want out of it. That could get the process blown up, if the UK is unable to form compromises because they don't know what they want. Also the bill is a clear win-lose question, which might spiral things towards hard Brexit.

by fjallstrom on Wed May 3rd, 2017 at 10:30:47 AM EST
I'm still of the view that the UK government hasn't really started thinking about negotiations: they're still entirely consumed by the internal Tory politics that got us here. May on campaign doesn't read like someone who thinks she's on the way to an easy 100 seat majority and secure leadership of the the party. She reads as terrified and trapped. This is weird.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed May 3rd, 2017 at 03:02:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't think May has any serious interest in a deal. I think the plan - for god only knows what reason - is to crash out the EU, crash out of the WTO, and turn the UK into some kind of insane Zimbabwe-on-Thames dictatorship.

It's no longer a stretch to imagine democracy and elections being suspended because of the economic emergency, or of "EU-loyalist saboteurs" being blamed for the crisis and purged.

The Tories have always been big on self-interest and class hatred. It's becoming worryingly obvious that there don't seem to be any limits on how far they're willing to go.

This election is the last chance to stop them. A hung parliament with no clear majority will bring their plans crashing down around them. Anything else - won't.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed May 3rd, 2017 at 09:04:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"Mainstream opinion" would probably regard tour comment as more than a bit excessive, and I doubt the UK will actually leave the WTO, but it is important to establish what political dynamics are coming into play as the talks falter and probably fail - and they are inexorably in the direction you describe.

It is also doubtful even a hung parliament would halt that dynamic because labour are so compromised on the issue.  Only the Lib Dems are offering a real alternative, and I'm not sure a second referendum within two years would actually necessarily reverse course.

It is important to establish where opposition to Brexit is now coming from, and it is mostly from business and other elites and those who have benefited from globalisation.  Much popular opposition to Brexit has now been swept away by the mantra that the people have decided, and now there is no choice but to "make a success of it".  

Never mind that the Leavers would have demanded a second referendum had they lost by a narrow margin... Never mind that much of the Brexit campaign was based on misdirection and lies. The class dynamic of a nationalist bourgeoisie triumphing over a comprador bourgeoisie now requires that the battle be fought on "patriotic" lines.  The economy be damned.

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by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu May 4th, 2017 at 08:08:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thank you Frank for the update and all the article spinets. Very useful stuff.

Personally, I am quite glad to see the 27 rallying behind Ireland. It is precisely for this kind of situation that the Union is being built.


by Luis de Sousa (luis[dot]de[dot]sousa[at]protonmail[dot]ch) on Wed May 3rd, 2017 at 11:27:16 AM EST
Stephen Collins: State has the right approach to Brexit
If the British really believe they can opt out of their financial commitments while leaving the EU and then have access to the single market for nothing, they are on a collision course that is going to end very badly for everybody, but for them in particular.

The position being adopted by the UK confirms how right Kenny and his negotiating team were to make it absolutely clear we are a committed member of the EU and not some stalking horse for British interests.

There was a danger of that perception taking hold in the immediate aftermath of the Brexit vote, as the best possible deal for the UK would clearly suit this country.

Since then, the British have gone out of their way to antagonise the EU institutions and virtually every other country in the bloc.

It is also worth contrasting the priority accorded to Ireland's unique geographical position by our 26 EU partners, and reiterated again yesterday by the bloc's chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, with the manner in which the British negotiators have ignored the interests of Northern Ireland and Scotland.

If May has no interest in protecting the interests of constituent parts of the UK, it shows how foolish the Irish Government would have been to tie our fate to theirs, as some pundits have advocated.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu May 4th, 2017 at 06:43:02 PM EST
Irish Times Editorial
There was never any prospect that the histrionic UK general election debate - "all about Brexit"- would contribute any clarity to the Brexit negotiating process. The best Prime Minister Theresa May could hope for was to find in it some means of painting herself as resolute and unbending, another Margaret Thatcher who would not be shaken by the dastardly Europeans. Above all, no floundering Jeremy Corbyn.

And she got that in spades with the leak of the details of her lunch last week with Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker. No matter that it revealed apparently absurd misapprehensions, whether genuine or not, about EU procedures and law ... Juncker called her ideas "in a different galaxy" - how many voters will even know? The prime minister cloaked herself in the mantle of Britannia as she dismissed "Brussels gossip".

The lunch in Downing Street had been billed as a chance for a frank, private discussion that, presumably, could go beyond the hard-line positioning which is inevitably part and parcel of the posturing at this stage of any talks. When the discussion turned out to be not so private, May will have been relieved that she had stuck to the intransigent positions that she would be most able to defend mid-election - had the leaks revealed a malleable PM willing privately to entertain significant concessions, all hell would have broken loose.

The leak, probably from Juncker's circle, allows the Commission to show it is dealing with an irrational interlocutor with little understanding of the possible. But it will also make less possible any future private encounters which are bound to be necessary to grease the wheels of diplomacy. And it gives May an unexpected election fillip.

So the leak benefited both parties? And was it really Juncker's team which perpetrated it? Or was it a false flag operation by the UK team in a German newspaper?  In any case, such positioning is normal at the start of any difficult negotiating process, with both sides setting out their opening positions.

There were, however some interesting titbits... Apparently Theresa May sees herself as the UK's main negotiator. This has been misinterpreted as meaning she will front up the UK side in talks with the Juncker and Barnier. But it may well mean that she thinks the real negotiations won't be with the Commission at all, but directly at head of Government level with other heads of government.  Good look with that: that is the one process the EU side is determined to avoid - allowing Heads of Government to be played off against one another. The oldest game in town: divide and conquer.

And yet, as documented in Brexit by the numbers it is EU heads of Government that Theresa May ultimately has to win over, at least in sufficient numbers to achieve a weighted majority vote on the Council. However, without the support of the Commission, the bar for a weighted majority of the Council goes up to 72% of the members representing at least 65% of the population. The bar just gets higher and higher the more Members of the EU the UK succeeds in alienating.

But at the moment May is concerned only with winning an increased mandate in the general election. The serious Brexit negotiations haven't started yet, and probably won't start before the German elections in October.  That leaves about 15 months before negotiations must conclude in order to allow for enough time for ratification by member states. They really don't have much more time to waste.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu May 4th, 2017 at 11:58:18 PM EST

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