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.

 

 

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 Xmas without soul

At present only for a split of Europeans Christmas is about a church going, but for the overwhelming majority, it is a family reunion, and a holiday time: sumptuous dinner, and presents with ribbons under decorated tree. The EU leaders have not much different from the citizens views on the ancient celebration of Jesus Nativity.

On Christmas Eve only one EU leader openly associated himself with the festivity – the president of the European Council Polish Donald Tusk, who even posted a video of him singing a carol on the occasion.

The European Parliament president Antonio Tajani mentioned the Nativity of Jesus celebrations in the context of Christmas shopping, while the president of the Commission JeanClaude Juncker did not mention it in his Twitter micro blog at all.

The attitude shows further detachment of the EU project from the original dream of Robert Schuman to create a “community of peoples deeply rooted in Christian basic values’.  The European project “can not and must not remain an economic and technical enterprise; it needs a soul, the conscience of its historical affinities and of its responsibilities In the present and in the future, and a political will at the service of the same human ideal’ he wrote.

Following Schuman‘s footsteps the president of the European Commission Jacques Delors  also openly practiced his Catholic faith, disregarding the EU secular nature. warning that the project has to develop a ‘soul of Europe‘ to inspire the citizens, because with material dimension only it runs high risk of collapse. The “game will be up” he said if the EU will not develop “spirituality and meaning”.

Next devote Catholics in position of leadership were Belge  Herman van Rompuy, the president of the EU Council,  who reportedly is a Jesuit regularly visiting to monasteries, and the speaker of the European Parliament Polish Jerzy Buzek, who also did no hide his devotion.

However the overwhelming number of the EU citizens identify themselves as Christians (76.2% Pew Research 2010), and most probably the majority of the European Parliament politicians too,  at least they made such an impression, when they welcomed the Argentinian Pope Francis (2014) in the European Parliament, Strasbourg. Although the visit raised brows of many critics questioning if the EU as a secular project should give a floor to a clergyman, especially after Lisbon Treaty, underlining the secular nature of the EU project.

The ongoing ambivalence is also reflected in the culture of political parties, because the leading political force in Europe is the Christian Democrats-Peoples Party. And it was Chancellor Angela Merkel, a daughter of pastor, who said:  “we don’t have too much Islam, we have too little Christianity”, responding to the citizens complaints. Curiously both  European most powerful leaders are daughters of clergymen: Merkel and May. British Prime minister confirmed during a radio emission that Christian faith ‘is part” of her. “It is part of who I am and therefore how I approach things’ Theresa May added. However she always preferred to keep her faith as a part of private life, strictly separated from politics.

While the EU leaders adapt their communications to secular trend, and modern vision of religion as a matter of private life, the Christians remain the most persecuted community in the world. The report issued the beginning of this year claimed 250 million of Christians are facing threats. According to the latest Watch List researchers estimate 1 in 12 Christians live where their faith is “illegal, forbidden, or punished.” 2018 World Watch List,  reported the previous year 3,066 Christians were killed, 1,252 abducted, 1,020 raped or sexually harassed, and 793 churches were attacked.

North Korea, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Eritrea, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, – a few to mention in a list of 50 countries across the world where Christians face threats, or are under extinction.

However, on Xmas Eve the EU strictly secular leaders prefer to keep silence, point to good shopping, or at maximum post a video of their own performance of a Christmas carol song, while the millions of people suffering the most outrages violation of their freedom of religion. Their unwillingness to pay attention to the problems of persecuted Christians looks like the worst of Jacques Delors nightmare – Europe without soul.

Christian map

 

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…

EU wrestles May into II referendum

The EU top negotiator Michel Barnier has put the cards on the table offering British Prime Minister Theresa May to postpone Brexit for one year. However one month would be suffice to launch the second referendum procedure in alliance with the Remaines in the House of Commons, including pro-EU Tory MPs in May’s own camp.

The frankness of Barnier brought certain relieve explaining the outstanding difficulty of the talks – the EU does everything possible to keep the UK ‘in’, making problem of every issue. #PeoplesVote is the ultimate goal of the Brexit talks, which follows the EU logic. If you vote ‘wrong’ you have to vote again until you aline with Brussels interests. Will May accept the EU27 ULTIMATUM tonight? She has 30 minutes of dinner speech to clarify her intentions. Afterwards the world will know if Brexit referendum was just a dressed rehearsal for a II one, or Britons really mean it.

 

#RoadToBrexit as a daydream

Undoubtedly the Manson House speech of the Prime Minister Theresa May has many virtues, offering constructive proposals for Article 50 agreement.  In general it is also attempts to appeal to common sense of the EU leaders, and is reflecting an intense search for the best possible new formula for matching interests of both parties, instead of fitting into old EU dogmas of ‘four freedoms’. May’s vision of the basis of post-Brexit engagement is orientated towards future: robotics and artificial intelligence, the new technologies and most of all the British genius, which brought the nation to the forefront of the Digital Revolution. But can this dazzling and dynamic new engagement attract Brussels?..

If we agree on the leading role of the “outstanding individuals” in sculpturing history, and take a close-up on European Union protagonists influencing Brexit negotiations, we’ll see that they function in totally different modus operandi than the looking forward British PM. The European Commission president (the ‘Prime Minister of Europe’) Jean-Claude Juncker is concerned with keeping the EU project intact in its original form, repeatedly referring to the forefathers – Robert Schuman and Jean Monnet who resurrected Europe from the ashes of the WWII on entirely new basis. Devoting his life to the ideas of the United States of Europe, Juncker’s major preoccupation is the risk of Brexit provoking a collapse of the entire 70 years old architecture, erected gradually after the European Coal and Steel Community united in 1950 in order to secure lasting peace.

Ideologically Juncker faces similar problems in dealing with Brexit as the Pope, who faced unpleasant news from a rebellious English King, rejecting to acknowledge his authority, and thus pay tribute to the Holy See. Juncker’s preoccupation is not to let the heresy to spread, subsequently the creation of a new ‘dynamic and vibrant’ engagement with London would be detrimental to the original project, showing to the other member-states, that life outside the EU can be so much better than inside.

In this case May’ appeal to embrace together the wonders of Digital Revolution falls on deaf ears: Juncker, as usual, is looking backward, contemplating ashes of the WWII. Keeping in mind the origins of the European project, the protection of its ‘sacred’ four freedoms from British ‘heresy’ becomes paramount. Allowing the new engagement to be a success means to give in to those, who ‘betrayed’ the great idea of Schuman, and  ‘tricked’ Britons into the trap of leave vote – an unthinkable compromise for such a ‘guardian’ of the EU Treaties as Jean-Claude Juncker.

In this context one can not exclude the ‘no-deal’ scenario, when the UK faces Brexting on WTO rules. Anyway, when dealing with dogmatics, it would be useful to keep an ace up the sleeve:)

 

The Cheat La Tour