Brexit negotiations pessimistic forecast

Anna van Densky, OPINION

The repeated requests for ‘clarifications’ from behalf of the EU27 articulated by the chief negotiator Michel Barnier reflect the state of the disbelief of the block vis-à-vis Britons who voted for abandoning of Europe’s project. In a long list of issues to be settled to the UK membership expiration date, the rights of the EU citizens, and the payments of fees beyond departure date are among the most controversial.

The demands of Barnier to create a three million strong growing expat community in UK, subdued to the EU law under umbrella of the European court of Justice, attributing it supremacy in jurisdiction over these citizens, and offering the European Commission right to monitor the situation, is de facto a claim of creating a EU27 enclave in the UK.

Nowadays the two groups of expats are different not only in numbers, as the Europeans are roughly three times more numerous in the UK, but also have different demographic potential. If the UK group has a large segment of senior citizens, which will be reduced with time for natural reasons, the Europeans represent the young generation with growing families, eager to pass their status to children. The demographic potential of 3,3 million of Europeans including more than a half a million of children in need of schooling  is in stark  contrast with the decreasing group of British wealthy senior citizens purchasing properties, and healthcare on continent.  As the recent study shows the biggest UK citizens community resides in Spain – more than 300 thousand people, and one-third of them are over 65, presumably retired.

However it is not economic, but political potential of EU growing group that should be of concern for Britons, risking to face a sizable problem in hosting a young and fast growing community, which can be a subject to a different kind of manipulations in the hands of the Brussels bureaucracy. In reality Barnier promotes the European community in the UK as a Trojan horse, serving the EU interests in the UK, and not the interests of the community itself, which naturally should be aiming at integration, and not prioritising the ties with the continent they have abandoned.

The other contradictory claim derives from the EU27 ‘divorce’ concept of Brexit, which is also at odds with the enshrined in Lisbon Treaty right of a state to cancel its membership. With the  ‘divorce’ concept Brussels is attempting to plant in public conscience the idea of ‘allowance’,  ethically framing the move of taking Prime minister Theresa May to cleaners.

If brushing away the profane description of the process, imposed by the European Commission, the membership cancellation does not include any membership fee beyond the actual legal period of being in the ranks of the European Union project. However the EU27 with a remarkable tenacity attempts to force the UK to pay the fees until the end of the financial term to ensure the stability for the European programmes until the finale of the current institutional mandate for the EU top executives, prioritising their personal political ambitions over long standing strategic interests of the continental Europeans, and Britons.

The exaggerated claims of the EU27 are rooted in the denial  of the reality of Brexit, namely the rejection of the UK citizens to continue their engagement with the European project, shifting from Single Market to European superstate. The obsessive pursuit of Brussels financial interests, and claims of an exclusive status to EU expats, will force the UK to leave without a deal, and this episode will leave a profound scar in relations between former partners for generations to come.

Brexit talks in Brussels

Britain’s Brexit minister David Davis vowed to “get down to work” ahead of a first full round of negotiations, however the gap between the EU27 financial claims, and the UK readiness to contribute to Europe’s purse after departure remains huge, so is the order of talks, imposed by the bloc, insisting on settling the ‘divorce’ bill first, and arranging a new framework of relations after.

The EU27 financial claims widely considered as an Apple of Discord between Brussels and the UK government, accepting to contribute beyond Brexit in some programmes, but not in a lavish ways the EU apparatchiks desire. The departure of the second net contributor leaves a huge hole in the EU27 budget, without an immediate solution how to mend it, putting many EU projects at risk.

The incumbent EU executives are also looking for the ways to conclude their mandate without having egg on their faces for shrinking activities in European project. Many experts consider that the Enlargement to the East without respect of Copenhagen criteria, and open door migration policy undermined the EU, forcing Britons to leave. There are many forecasts the UK will not be the only country eager to end its membership in the advanced democracies club, increasingly shifting away from its original concept of stability and prosperity in Europe.

UK to walk away without a deal?

 

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The UK departure without a deal as a concept appears persistently in different contexts, approaching the date of the triggering Article 50, promised by Prime Minister Theresa May in March, likely before the Treaty of Rome celebrations on the 27th, but after the Dutch general elections on the 15th. The UK officials do not wish to harm the fragile ties with the EU27, and complicate the situation of one millions of compatriots, chosen the continental Europe as their home.

The hostile rhetoric of the EU high officials, especially the Jean-Claude Juncker, the head of the European Commission, and the veteran of the EU project, made many politicians and experts to consider the departure without any settlement as a viable option, shielded by the WTO rules.

The perspective of the free-trade agreement with the US, opened after the visit of the PM May to the White House, makes ‘no deal better than a poor deal’ approach a leading trend.

Picture: US President Donald Trump and UK Prime Minister Theresa May walking through White House gallery.

Sir Rogers: adieu to ‘belle époque’

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The stepping down of the UK’s ambassador to the EU, Sir Ivan Rogers continues a ‘natural’ process of  replacement of Eurocentrics by Europscpetics, namely ‘remainers’ for ‘brexiters’. If in times of his appointment in 2013 the enthusiasm for common European future was an asset,  as much as along  the ‘StrongerIn’ campaign,  in post-Brexit vote period it is a handicap. The times are changing, but not everyone is ready to change with times, some prefer to keep their personal integrity, speaking their ‘truth’ to those at power. Their choice should be respected.

But the ‘remainers’- poor losers they are – hurried to use to political ends the personal decision of ambassador, instead of accepting it as a part of a logical renewal. The type of a damaging for the common interest frenzy as both the UK and EU27 need pragmatic approach to diminish the emotional element and to implement the will of British people in a constructive way without lyrics and laments.
With a pinch of English humor in a Swiftian style, Sir Rogers hinted on an “exiting” year in Brussels ahead of his stuff, the experience he has no intention to share. However he kindly leaves some guidelines formally to his staff, but in reality to his bosses in London, the element many ‘remainers’ hurried to present as a ‘blow’ to the PM Theresa May. In vain. It is not ‘indecisive’ government, it is a EU project on the crossroads.
From the first lines Rogers admits the need to form a stable and devoted new team to follow the process from evocation of Article 50 through the negotiations to the end.
He also advises the replacement of his deputy to create an entirely new leadership for the diplomatic crew to engage fully in the future negotiations as one team.
Complaining about absence of clarity for Brexit negotiation objectives, the same time Rogers looks beyond his Brussels ‘situ’ to acknowledge the fact of changing political environment the UK is facing while departing from the project.  Indeed, the UK government has no crystal ball to guess the outcome of the multiple elections taking place in EU27 in 2017. The national elections that might create a political environment  from ‘favorable’ to ‘fair’ for Brexit negotiators. Why hurry to push the Article 50 button?..
Sir Rogers departs in a firm belive that the future of his country depends on skills of technocrats, negotiating every detail in trade agreements, but the history shows that the future is sculptured by multiple factors, among which the political will has a prior place. Europeans have witnessed a whirlwind of changes since the collapse of the fall of Berlin Wall, reminding that treaties can be abandoned not only by negotiations but also under clausual rebus sic stantibus,   or because of  a total change of the context.
The European institutions employees made us think that the threads for the future are in eurocrat’s hands. One of the evaporating myth of  ‘la belle époque’ of the EU, that will never come back, because its beauty and glamour touched just a few, and made unhappy too many.

#Brexit: following Dutch elections

 

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The Article 50 timing to evoke a process of negotiations for #Brexit fixed by Prime Minister Teresa May for the end of March 2017 is suspiciously coinciding with a date of Dutch parliamentary elections announced for the ‘Ides of March’ – the 15th.

It has been a long time the UK leads as a number one destination of Dutch investors, and for Britons it is the second. However the once declared role of Dutch as a promoters of the EU for the UK is not relevant any more and the broadening gap between Eurozone and the City of London doesn’t leave an opportunity to sit in two chairs – there is time to chose. 

Previously Dutch Eurosceptic politician Geert Wilders said that he hoped for Britain to leave with a ‘knock-on” effect on his countrymen. Taking into consideration the symbiosis of the UK and The Netherlands in economy and finance, historic and cultural ties, one can agree with Wilders prediction of a considerable influence of #Breixt on the whole of the Dutch society.

Subsequently, in #Brexit aftermath Wilder’s party PvV has already enjoyed a spectacular raise in polls, reflecting growing deception  in the EU. Only 14% of Dutchmenbelieve that the EU contributed significantly  to economic growth in their country. 

Summer holiday break showed some decline in Wilder’s popularity, however it remains high enough

to cease  the majority of the seats in the Parliament. Notorious or popular, dependent on a point of view, Wilders firmly stays in the limelight of Dutch politics, and expression  ‘Prime Minister Wilders’ is becoming increasingly current in European political debate.

Choosing for a politician promising a return of national sovereignty is no more a ficiton, but reality Brussels might face in a half-a-year, subsequently #Nexit referendum might follow by the end of 2017, bringing an ally to the UK at negotiations table with the #EU.

As follows the UK timing for a start of #Brexit procedure isn’t a game of chance, but a well considered strategy, aiming at achieving the best possible deal in talks with #EU27 reduced to #EU26.

The sinister prediction of Nigel Farage for Brussels Mandarins might come true soon: the UK will be not the last country leaving the crumbling Union.

Abussus abussum invocat!

 

#Bratislava Summit: Roadmap Illusion

 

treaty-of-rome

Assessing the perspectives of informal #Bratislava Summit #EU27 Roadmap one has a difficulty to see any light in the end of a tunnel. Paradoxically the first Summit of #EU27 without the #UK appeared to be tumultuous, marked by disagreements, pessimism, and blame-games between the leaders, who with astonishing frankness have drawn new dividing lines among European nations.

A symbolism of a common Roadmap requested by #Merkel can hardly mislead anyone by its highly illusionary nature within a new dynamic situation while polarizing groups of states with conflicting interests created among EU members .

While Mediterranean members complain about #Merkel’s austerity
policy, the East Europeans Vicegrad group vigorously oppose migrant open-door strategy, and its consequences for security, rejecting quota relocating system.
The Italian Prime Minister #Renzi informed press  about his criticism of German surplus trade effects, rejecting any common press-conference by the end of the Summit. The crisis of Italian banks is becoming a pressing issue, but so far the #EU hasn’t changed its austerity line,  which fired back on popularity of  #Renzi government.
The Italian PM position came on the top of the wave of Mediterranean countries discontent with Brussels and Berlin worded in “Athens declaration” (9.09.2016) after conference of so-called Club-Med countries demanding to put an end to ‘Stablitiy and Growth Pact’,  thus changing rules of eurozone, meaning the end of austerity imposed by Germany.
Rebellion of Mediterranean and East European leaders became more sound, than before #Brexit vote.
Moreover after the long pause between the #Brexit referendum and evocation of article 50 the warning of Luxembourg Foreign minister #Asselborn to suspend #Hungary from the EU for its dissent were not taken seriously as nobody knows how to carry out #Brexit, and logically one more country falling out would only adds degree of heat to the EU crisis.
Facing the rise of Euroskepticism reflected in a number of processes across Europe with Hungarian referendum on migrants, Italian referendum on Constitutional reform, German, Dutch, and French elections – the whole ensemble of events that might lead to serious reconstruction of the EU project to advantage of the nation-states, especially with ‘Prime-Minister Geert Wilders’ and ‘President Marine Le Pen’. The only way to survival will be in tempering the Eurocrat’s appetite and transferring of powers from Brussels to member-states, and сreating a flexible network for cooperation, in the other words a the notorious ‘à la carte’. The question is if Brusssls is ready for reform?..
However not everyone might be happy with these solutions, preferring organizations without foreign policy and military ambitions like EFTA, who express readiness to consider the UK membership, and might welcome some other discontent EU members.
From Bratislava Summit #EU27 in one year one might witness a birth of new alliances grown from current sub-groups of the EU: the UK and Nordic countries joining EFTA, and the fragilized EU with major subgroups of Mediterranean states, and Vicegrad group under symbolic Franco-German chairmanship.
Finally, by the 25 of March 2017 there will be a big question if there is much to celebrate after 60 years of the EU haphazard integration and galloping expansion.
By the time it might shrink back to its origins to European Economic Community (TEEC) as once it started in Rome in 1957 with slightly different list of participants
-back to square one…
De novo!