Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
Q1. Good question. Last time around May could claim that her deal had been "improved" by the added clarifications in accompanying documents. This time around, there hasn't even been the pretence of further discussions with EU.

Q2. The truly remarkable thing is the degree to which they have been speaking with one voice until now, despite major differences on other issues. Some of this may be in solidarity with Ireland, a small member with most skin in the game, and a determination that no continuing member will be thrown under a bus - it could be them next time!

I'm inclined to give Varadker some credit for this, although others may have more knowledge/better perspective on this. He loves schmoozing at summits, and seems to have good relations with everyone (including Orban). Being a member of the dominant EPP helps (something the Conservatives never realized).

The EU's patience may not be limitless, but so far it may be a case of "never interrupt your enemy while he is busy making a mistake" (Napoleon). Some may be taking some vicarious schadenfreude at the UK's discomfort, but I am expecting a severe reaction if the UK does, eventually, go the no deal route.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Mar 17th, 2019 at 10:56:13 AM EST
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Barnier's team also worked in close coordination with the EU institutions, with regular briefings & reports to the EC, the Council and the EP. They quickly brought up the Irish border as one of the main issues (Varadker helped too), so that people in Brussels became more familiar with the issue than those in Westminster. It definitely helped cementing a common position for the EU27.

Also, it has to be said, the British political class did its absolute best to antagonize just about everyone in Europe, even in the countries that used to be considered as closest to the UK's position, like Sweden or the Netherlands. I mean, when even Mark Rutte is "visibly irritated" while comparing your political posturing to the Monty Python, you know you're in real deep.

Dutch PM compares Theresa May to Monty Python limbless knight

Mark Rutte, who appeared visibly irritated last week at the failure of MPs to pass the Brexit deal, admitted feeling "angry" at the impasse in Westminster.

He said his frustration was focused on the posturing of those seeking to make party political points during a major national crisis but praised May's "incredible" resilience in the face of repeated knock-backs in the House of Commons.

"Look, I have every respect for Theresa May," Rutte said in an interview with the Dutch broadcaster WNL on Sunday. "She reminds me occasionally of that character from Monty Python where all the arms and legs are cut off but he then tells the opponent: `Let's call it a draw.' She's incredible. She goes on and on. At the same time, I do not blame her, but British politics."

by Bernard on Sun Mar 17th, 2019 at 08:04:14 PM EST
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In other words, the EU side has been doing a negotiation process, while the UK has not. As far as I can tell, the UK hasn't worked out positions (not to be confused with red lines), so there has hardly been any situations where the UK could have tested the EU countries' resolve by offering compromises where on question A they offer to meet halfway if they get this and that on B and C. And then different countries and political groups might value A, B and C differently.

You know, actual negotiations, instead of demanding unicorns and that the EU breeds them.

by fjallstrom on Sun Mar 17th, 2019 at 11:59:11 PM EST
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