Brexit Summit or Article 50 Fata-Morgana

Anna van Densky OPINION The House of Commons approved Theresa May‘s postponed Brexit deadline until June 30, which the British Prime minister will defend today at the European Council in Brussels. The text was approved by 420 MPs against 110.

The leader of Brexit party Nigel Farage has been ironical about  the upcoming meeting referring to German Chancellor Angela Merkel as the “bossBritish Prime Minister is going to consult.

However there is a clear message from Brussels to the Westminster – there will be no other deal, but the endorsed one, although the additional political declarations are possible. No need to add that they are not legally binding, and are not an integral part of the Article 50 Agreement.

In fact the additional time, if given to May government, is granted for making an extra effort to pass a the deal via the Westminster. The entire political struggle is about changing perception not the essence of the Agreement reached.

Shifting of the deadline to the end of June 2019, as President Macron is intended to offer, will result in participation of the UK in the EU parliamentary elections, because there is such an obligation for a member-state in the Treaty. (Image above : Europarliament, Strasbourg). In case the Remainers win a majority of seats among UK MEPs in the European Parliament, they will have an opportunity to reverse the Brexit process in a different ways: postponing further or calling for the second referendum. As Theresa May warned – the rejection of her deal might also mean never leaving the EUBrexit will be gradually transformed into elusive Fata-Morgana.

 

 

EU Brexit charade

Anna van Densky from EP, Brussels. The Members of European Parliament (MEP) raise concerns about perspective of the UK remaining for upcoming European elections, being “one foot in, one foot out”, as Guy Verhofstadt (ALDE, Belgium) said.

The perspective of electing even more Brexiteers is definitely not inspiring  MEPs, open to endorse additional political declarations, if necessary, however standing firmly by the EU Commission, and Council, refusing the revision of the endorsed deal.

While the attempting to convince Westminster to endorse the deal the European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker repeated the UK can have one more extension on condition of the Article 50 Agreement (Withdrawal Agreement) endorsement, and proposing clear plans of moving forward with the implementation. The prolongation of uncertainty is not an option.

The tone of the EU top executive was dead, and while he was offering more political declarations. Juncker’s  glances were gloomy, while he switched to the part of speech, describing damages to EU, and even more so to British economy if the no-deal scenario takes place by default. He admitted to read the speech first time during his intervention in Europarliament, because “every word is important“.
If the UK is able to approve the withdrawal agreement with a viable majority by 12 April, then the European Union should accept an extension until 22 May“, Juncker concluded.

Responding to the worst fears of MEPs, Gerard Batten (UKIP, UK) called Britons to vote massively for UKIP in case the country participates in European elections in May.

 

Brexit by defalut looming

There are no reasons for optimism in Brussels, where the heads of states and governments are meeting for the European Union Summit on March 21-22: there is hardly anyone who believes that the Westminster will endorse Theresa May‘s Article 50 Agreement.

In absence of any changes in the text of the negotiated for two years deal itself, it is only context that changes, the perception of losses endorsing the deal, or preferring no-deal damages.However it is unlikely the MPs will change their minds, vote for the Agreement they have rejected two times already.

On the Brexit, we need to be clear about ourselves, our British friends and our peoples. The withdrawal agreement cannot be renegotiated. In case of a British negative vote, we would go to a no-deal” explains Emmanuel Macron. At his arrival to the #EUCO the President ensured that France is ready for no-deal scenario, and will support enterprises, especially small businesses, but also fishery.

However in case the Westminster decides to accept May’s deal next week, the EU is ready to extend the Brexit deadline to 22 May, a day before the European elections vote will start. The top EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said, while arriving to the Council, that a short extension can be only “conditional”.

#Brexit: pessimism reigns in Europarl

Anna van Densky OPINION The European Parliament Brexit negotiator Guy VERHOFSTADT (Belgium, ALDE) cancelled his press-conference, so did his major ally – Esteban GONZALES-PONS (Spain EPP). There are no traces of optimism in the corridors of power in spite of British Prime Minister Theresa MAY the last minute spontaneous visit to Strasbourg, attempting to obtain compromises on the Article 50 Agreement.

However the legally-binding interpretations of Brexit deal will be hardly enough to convince the Westminster to accept it in tonight’s vote.

In case of voting down the Article 50 Agreement the relations between the EU and UK will be entering the uncharted waters, as Prime Minister May has stated already. The extension of the deadline (March 29) is possible in the framework of the agreed Brexit only to avoid legal vacuum. The Remainers already threaten to sue their government in the European Court (CURIA) for breaching the Article 50, which clearly describes the timetable, and does not foresee any prolongations.

Originally there were two fixed deadlines: Brexit date on March 29, and the latest date of its possible extension on May 24 (European elections), before which the UK should leave, or it is obliged to participate, according to the Treaties to ensure the right of the citizens to elect their representatives to the European Parliament. In any case the status of the incumbent MEPs could not be extended beyond July 2, when the newly elected Parliament will be constituted.

However there are very few politicians eager to model possible developments in case tonight of House of Commons will vote down the deal. It will be not only the downfall for Theresa May, and her government, but also considered as a major failure for the EU27 to secure orderly Brexit, preserving from blow economies, jobs, and citizens rights. The  failure will certainly reflect on upcoming European elections disfavoring predominant political forces, unable to preserve mutually beneficial relations with one of major European economies.

 

EU avoids speculations on II Brexit referendum

The carefully worded statement on possibility of the second Brexit referendum in UK reflects the cautions attitude of the EU institutions to possible repeated plebiscite, attributing to the first one a status of a ‘dressed rehearsal’.

First and utmost, the EU27 does not wish to make an impression of a player, influencing the cause of events, and especially its impact on the future of Britons, to avoid being blamed for interference in home affairs of a sovereign state. Although the grounds for retaining the UK in the EU are in place, ensured by the European Court of Justice (Luxembroug)  the further maneuvering are far too risky to be undertaken publicly.

Dabbing the UK  claims as “nebulous“, European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker has already slipped, receiving an explosion of fury from both of camps: the Brexiteers and the Remainers.

The tough talk with Prime Minister Theresa May made headlines, but did not bright any sympathy to Brussels, blamed to exaggerate the demands over the notorious Irish-border guarantee – ‘backstop‘. For many British legislators the requests of an indefinite ‘backstop‘ will create the major controversy, risking to pull the Brexit deal down while voting in the House of Commons.

The rigid position of the EU27, and reluctance to introduce any amendments in the Brexit deal ahead of the ratification, can be interpreted as a wish of its failure, with a hope of a the collapse of May‘s government, subsequently leading to the II referendum. and cancellation of Brexit. However those who promote the scenario forget about the high risks to receive the second rejection, damaging beyond repair the image of the bloc already in a profound crisis. The EU is caught between a rock and a hard place…

May gets political reassurances from EU

Britain’rime minister, Theresa May, appealed to the EU leaders at the EU Summit for concessions to help her receive the support in Westminster next month for an Article 50 deal that can  facilitate the UK exit from the European Union.

 

Arriving at a Brussels Summit May said she was not expecting an immediate breakthrough but wanted help to get a Brexit deal she agreed with the EU27 last month ratified in London, where many in her Conservative Party who claim the concessions made are unacceptable on long term, trapping the country into endless limbo.

May urged the EU leaders to work with her to “change the perception” of the controversial  Irish borderbackstop” plan.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said the “backstop’ concerning the Irish border is not negotiable red line of the Article 50 deal. If it is applied it should be applied for a shortest possible period, however the EU would refuse the expiration date.

In aftermath of the confidence vote May promised to listen to concerns of those members of her party who oppose negotiated by her government deal. The “backstop” remains an apple of discord and puts the entire deal ratification at risk.

In case House of Commons votes down the deal, the UK ‘hard’ Brexit under WTO rules becomes inevitable.

Apart of her doorstep remarks at arrival, German Chancellor Angela Merkel did not give a press conference after the first day of the EU Summit.

 

Pedro Sanchez Gibraltar ‘Chandelier Bid’

Anna van Densky  OPINION  It would be utmost naive to believe Spanish Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez is eager to enter history books as a man, who derailed Article 50  deal, and destroyed the the EU27 collective effort to avoid ‘hard Brexit’ over such a ‘eternal‘ issue as Gibraltar ceded to  British crown in 1713. Even more so, the derailing of Brexit deal would be senseless facing the solid support of the leadership of territory unequivocally given to British government both by the Chief Minister and opposition.

However Spanish veto threats hanging as Damocles sword over the final draft deal to be presented for endorsement on the EU Brexit Summit just in a day is an ideal opportunity for Sanchez to raise his own stakes politically in Europe and gain a considerable capital at home, boosting his own popularity.  Virtuoso of public relations, formed in Brussels institutions, Sanchez mastered modern communication strategies and has no intention to miss an opportunity Brexit offers.

In profound need of electoral support,  Sanchez, whose ascension to power happened though elaborate parliamentary chess combination, but not the citizen’s vote, finds himself in a need of political capital,  and voters sympathies, he has been chronically missing. The struggle for Gibraltar status is a ideal subject to raise media and public attention in Spain to gain so much needed  for the Socialists popularity.

The other paramount issue is the Spain‘s shattered image within the EU over the Catalan  referendum oppression – the last minute compromise Sanchez will offer to the bloc will be undoubtedly  presented as an ultimate sacrifice on the alter of collective European good to be exchanged in the future on ‘carte blanche‘ in some sensitive issues and benefits  for Spain to obtain from Brussels.

Pedro Sanchez will definitely not bloc the EU27 Brexit deal, and destroy the fruit of Michel Barnier elaborate arrangement to be delivered at the historic EU Summit, however there is a price for Spanish generosity the Brussels will discover later when leaders gather for the final say. Meanwhile the Article 50 game of nerves will go on, reminiscent of classic ‘Chandelier Bid‘, in order to create the appearance of greater demand or to extend bidding momentum for a piece on offer – #Gibraltar, whose inhabitants have already  twice in referendums supported status quo.

This Millenium Gibraltar sovereignty referendum was held on 7 November 2002 within the British overseas territory on a proposal by London to share  the sovereignty of the territory between Spain and the United Kingdom. The result was a rejection of the proposal by a landslide majority, with only just over one per cent of the electorate in favour.