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Article 50 Day

by Colman Wed Mar 29th, 2017 at 11:13:02 AM EST

So today is the day that the fools running the UK government at the moment send the Article 50 notification to Europe on behalf of the Daily Mail, the Sun, the Telegraph and a pile of xenophobic old people nostalgic for the death penalty, caning in schools and incandescent fucking lightbulbs.

Meanwhile the Guardian have a story about a draft EU Parliament - the democratic one - resolution on Brexit. A few notable things:

  • there may be a transitional deal for after 2019 to ensure that custom controls and barriers on trade are not enforced on day one of Brexit, but that these arrangements should not exceed three years and will be “limited in scope as they can never be a substitute for union membership”.
  • the European court of justice will be responsible for settling any legal challenges during the transition period.
  • the UK will be able to revoke its notification of article 50 but this must be “subject to conditions set by all EU27 so they cannot be used as a procedural device or abused in an attempt to improve the actual terms of the United Kingdom’s membership”.
  • should Britain seek to negotiate any free trade deals with other countries while it is still an EU member state, there will be no future discussion of a deal with the union.
  • there will be no special deal for the City of London “providing UK-based undertakings preferential access to the single market and, or the customs union”.
  • the cut-off date after which EU nationals coming to the UK lose the automatic right to residency in the UK must not be before 29 March 2019, when the country leaves the EU, or the British government will be breaking EU law.
  • Britain should pay all its liabilities “arising from outstanding commitments as well as make provision for off-balance sheet items, contingent liabilities and other financial costs that arise directly as a result of its withdrawal”.
  • the outcome of the negotiations on the future EU-UK relationship “cannot involve any trade-off between internal and external security including defence cooperation, on the one hand, and the future economic relationship, on the other hand”.
We'll see what makes into the final resolution and how much of that reflects the thinking of the rest of the EU institutions. A final deal will require a majority vote in Parliament.

Parliament can usefully play bad cop, of course.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Mar 29th, 2017 at 11:15:37 AM EST
It's hard to see May's timing of her A50 notification to coincide with the EU's 60th. anniversary as anything other than a calculated insult, or at best, utter indifference to the objectives the EU was designed to achieve.  It has always been a UK foreign policy objective to divide and conquer in Europe in the knowledge that European divisions weaken the continent and strengthen the UK by comparison.

But this time her gambit may fail miserably.  It's hard to remember the EU 27 so united in their response and so determined to ensure that Brexit doesn't weaken the EU27 any more than it absolutely has to. The EU has a long history of dealing pragmatically with most of its problems but that doesn't mean it will roll over in the face of the existential threat that Brexit could represent.

It is in Ireland's interest to secure as soft a Brexit as possible. but Ireland represents little over 1% of the EU population and won't be calling the shots over anything but it's most pressing bi-lateral concerns vis a vis the Good Friday Agreement, a hard border, the common travel area, and trade with the UK.  

Getting majority approval in the EU Parliament is the least of our problems.  Far more difficult will be achieving a weighted majority on the Council, and indeed unanimous agreement in the event of an extension of the two year period is required.  My money is still on the UK overplaying its hand disastrously and walking away without any agreement at all resulting in Scottish independence and a destabilisation of Northern Ireland.

It's time to batten down the hatches and expect the worst. I'm continuing the process of divesting my pension fund of all UK assets.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Mar 29th, 2017 at 02:20:18 PM EST
I wouldn't both putting my money on any outcome: the system is far too unstable to predict.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Mar 29th, 2017 at 03:10:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Though if I had a most likely case it'd be a fig leaf Brexit that allows the UK to be as shitty as it likes to its workers and environment.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Mar 29th, 2017 at 03:41:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Given the low intelligence and competence of the UK government I predict they'll accomplish nothing over the next two years and end with the hardest of hard exits.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Wed Mar 29th, 2017 at 03:08:47 PM EST
I have to agree. I cannot forget the smack talk produced by Anglo-merican MSM (illustrated with flow-charts, no less) in the run-up to the Referendum, clear through the New Year. UK had all the cards, EU would break ranks, god would intervene ... in pre-BREXIT "negotiations" (2 years of Cameron Reform Letter Fails notwithstanding).

Meanwhile, EU 27 has been jockeying to carve up City privileges. o, and I've been reading a years worth of ekathimerini (GREECE, FFS!) comments by expats (various industries) preparing physical re-lo.

I predict, YoY from today (I called $1.25 the week of the Referendum), City desks will resort to discounting ostensibly to salvage share. And that move, with or without BoE sanction, will set the stage for the next decade of conflict, errrr, penny-ante trade volatility across the EU.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Thu Mar 30th, 2017 at 01:36:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I've gone with the Remainer consensus that May has no clue what she's doing. And then I read this and changed my mind: The negotiator: Brexit talks to be Theresa May's toughest test (FT, March 26, 2017)
Whitehall officials confirm it is normal for Mrs May to take decisions in the early hours after careful study. One of the most remarkable decisions of her time at the Home Office came in 2012 when she decided not to extradite Gary McKinnon, accused by the US of hacking government computers. Mr McKinnon has Asperger's syndrome, but the US was furious.

"There were piles and piles of papers around -- they were reviewed and reviewed," says one close observer of Mrs May at the Home Office. "The Americans had convinced themselves he was going to be extradited. She said I'm going to go through all the papers again. She reached a decision at some time in the night." The plane was ready to take Mr McKinnon to the US and a possible 60-year jail sentence.

Mrs May relies more heavily on briefing packs than personal relationships when it comes to dealmaking. Uncomfortable footage of her at a recent European summit awkwardly standing on her own while colleagues gossiped in the background seemed to sum up her "outsider" position in the club.

Someone with a habit of reading all the briefings from cover to cover and the giving them on more read until the early morning before making a decision is not going to walk into the Brexit negotiations unprepared. We may disagree with her goals but I'm sure over the past 9 months she will have commissioned Brexit reports from all ministries and, unlike other politicians would, she will have read them in full.

There is a lot of circumstantial evidence in that FT article that May might actually have Asperger's which is both a virtue and a flaw.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Mar 30th, 2017 at 11:04:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
She still isn't negotiating with the EU, she's negotiating with her back bench  and the tabloids. If that doesn't stop it doesn't matter whether she reads the briefs or what tribe she might be a member of.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Mar 30th, 2017 at 11:25:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Compared to a Boris she is obviously hard working and meticulous. But actual negotiation success requires good relationships.  Your counterparts have to actually want to give you a good deal.  All the evidence suggests that she and her team are there to appease the hard right, not to cultivate relationships and generate a propitious negotiating climate.  As far as I can see she has almost no close friends or allies on the European Council or Commission.  Why should anyone from the EU27 go out on a limb for her?

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Mar 30th, 2017 at 03:26:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What May can do and what she wants is fairly well beside the point.  Brexit is a Team Sport.  The Tories need a deep bench of diplomats and negotiators ready to hit it.  I have seen no evidence they do.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Thu Mar 30th, 2017 at 10:40:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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