Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.

Prepare for the breakdown

by Frank Schnittger Thu Feb 27th, 2020 at 02:35:27 PM EST

Both the EU and the UK have now published their mandates for their negotiating teams on their future relationship. As might be expected at this stage, they couldn't be further apart, and some "expectations management" is no doubt involved. But neither is there anything to suggest that my central expectation of a no deal Brexit at the end of 2020 will not, in fact, come to pass.


On the EU side, one packaged deal is envisaged:

"The European Council reiterated in particular that the future relationship with the United Kingdom will have to be based on a balance of rights and obligations and ensure a level playing field."

"The envisaged partnership is a single package that comprises three main components: - general arrangements (including provisions on basic values and principles and on governance); - economic arrangements (including provisions on trade and level playing field guarantees); and - security arrangements (including provisions on law enforcement and judicial cooperation in criminal matters, as well as on foreign policy, security and defence)."

On the UK side:

Our approach is based on friendly cooperation between sovereign equals. Our offer outlined today represents our clear and unwavering view that the UK will always have control of its own laws, political life and rules. Instead, both parties will respect each other's legal autonomy and the right to manage its own borders, immigration policy and taxes.

Good luck with that. The UK even states they will walk away from the negotiations if sufficient progress hasn't been made by June. I have always thought that wildly divergent expectations would lead to a breakdown in negotiations. What I didn't expect was that the Boris Johnson government would be actively trying to bring such a breakdown about.

What is absent from the UK government document is any indication as to why the EU should agree to any of its demands - beyond the assertion that it will be a negotiation between sovereign equals and will be similar to agreements the EU has already concluded with Canada, Japan, and South Korea. But the EU doesn't do equality in trade negotiations, not even with the USA where no deal has been ratified to date.

The assumption appears to be that the UK can, if necessary, live with WTO rules only. But WTO rules don't cover services - 75% of the UK economy - and, as Trump has shown, can be ignored on the slightest pretext. Johnson must be praying that Trump gets re-elected in November, because without the USA by its side, there is no reason for the EU to engage with the UK as an equal.

Continued suggestions from the UK side that it will welsh on its commitments in the Northern Ireland protocol in the Withdrawal Agreement if it doesn't get its way on other matters are also hardly designed to inspire trust on the EU side. The UK government appear to have forgotten that all 27 remaining members of the EU have to ratify any deal. Why would they do so unless it is clearly in their interests to do so? Indeed the requirement for continued solidarity and cohesion if the EU is to survive may dictate that Brexit has to be seen as a failure if the EU is not to fall apart.

So it is difficult to escape the conclusion that the UK has already given up on a mutually advantageous deal with the EU. Perhaps Johnson's Rasputin, Dominic Cummings, feels that the EU is a weak and unprincipled body which can be brought to heel when faced with the glint of cold steel in UK negotiators eyes. Perhaps the UK really believes the EU has no choice but to treat it as a sovereign equal. Perhaps whatever assurances they have received from Donald Trump has emboldened him.

But to this observer, the EU is faced with an existential challenge if it does treat the UK as an equal - the UK will have achieved through Brexit a status it never had as a member - when it was simply one of 28 voices at the table. Perhaps it is time the EU, too, embraced the reality of no deal, and prepared accordingly. No one will win, but we are now in an era of damage limitation where the continued existence of the EU trumps all.

Display:
News forces you to write a diary, isn't that a fact?

I too was itching ...

UK Set to End EU Negotiations by June, Gove Says

Global Warming - distance between America and Europe is steadily increasing.

by Oui on Thu Feb 27th, 2020 at 02:45:06 PM EST
Yep. To be honest I have been focused on other things, hence the brevity of my diary. But we do need to keep the front page relevant and up to date!

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Feb 27th, 2020 at 03:00:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In other news, commercial UK mercenary firms with close links to the Foreign Office and MI5 have been implicated in a campaign of genocide, torture and murder resulting in 150,000 deaths in Sri Lanka. I know other EU members don't have clean hands either, but in my view, the less security and foreign policy coordination we have with the UK, the better.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Feb 27th, 2020 at 03:06:39 PM EST
I don't think you need to worry about the EU making plans for No Deal. I'm sure armies of eurocrats are prepping for just such an eventuality, but it is the nature, I think, of the EU to keep talking and never say never - to the very end, God bless 'em. As opposed to the Tories typically pronouncing Never before they have even started.
I perceive UK's bluster as a desperate scream, but what do I know?
by Andhakari on Thu Feb 27th, 2020 at 04:58:51 PM EST
Tories still operate under the premises it's 1807 and the sun never sets on the British Empire.

Thus oblivious rather than desperate.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Thu Feb 27th, 2020 at 05:10:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, Napoleon was doing rather well in 1807, and Nelson and Wellington were far from their prime. The commercial interests of Britain were always yammering for an end to conflict, and lower taxes through the Napoleonic wars.
I'm willing to compromise: let's call it obvious And desperate.
by Andhakari on Thu Feb 27th, 2020 at 05:57:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
De Gaulle nailed it when he said "a number of aspects of Britain's economy, from working practices to agriculture" had "made Britain incompatible with Europe" and that Britain harbored a "deep-seated hostility" to any pan-European project.  Brexit has simply confirmed his analysis.

The EU is facing the same choice as the US, albeit in different ways: either continue the neo-liberal nonsense and descend into fascism or go back to politico-economic policies that have proven to work.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Thu Feb 27th, 2020 at 05:08:12 PM EST
My fear is that both the US and UK, under Trump and Boris, have chosen fascism...

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Feb 27th, 2020 at 05:15:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If Trump wasn't a gross incompetent the US would be a Fascist state.  He had everything going for him and he blew it.

I am less sanguine the next guy to follow the playbook Trump has published will also be incompetent.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Fri Feb 28th, 2020 at 05:26:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"If Trump wasn't a gross incompetent the US would be a Fascist state."

This is the horrifying reality of the US system of government that has been made obvious in the past three years. If there is any sense whatsoever remaining in this country, the system will undergo a significant re-think and re-work.

by asdf on Mon Mar 2nd, 2020 at 01:07:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And Boris also ditto too.


She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Fri Feb 28th, 2020 at 05:27:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
US/UK do not do international law.

Are we clear YET?

by Cat on Thu Feb 27th, 2020 at 05:24:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Getting rid of "international law" would be the best first step towards world peace.

In other words no Nato, no UN, no international court of anything, no western-soviet-chinese satellite nations, no aid. Just balance of terror at every border. Or trade and cooperation.

Israel would leave Gaza, for example. It would no longer be worth the effort.

Progressive effort to "bring democracy" to the middle east would also end, meaning those terrorists could be dealt with at home, by people who know what they are doing. Many people in the middle east are ... annoyed ... with westerners who preach multiculture and give islamists free havens in Europe.
"We were getting close to shutting them down, and then you come along and ruin it."

Note I said "peace" not "everyone gets to be a secular western progressive." But most people don't want that.

-----
sapere aude

by Number 6 on Mon Mar 2nd, 2020 at 11:17:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I have no idea what you are talking about. International Law does next to nothing now so how can abolishing it do all that? And what anything of this has to do with "Multiculture" is beyond me.
by generic on Mon Mar 2nd, 2020 at 11:40:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
OK Boomer

-----
sapere aude
by Number 6 on Mon Mar 2nd, 2020 at 11:46:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yet weird conspiracy theories about "Multiculturalism" are the quintessential of Boomer thought.
by generic on Mon Mar 2nd, 2020 at 11:52:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
To conflate international law with NATO (which is a military alliance), the existence of satellite states ( a consequence of military superiority), or the neo-con (not progressive) efforts to bring "democracy" to the Middle East is about as wrong as you can get.

For a start, the USA has always seen itself as above international law, refusing to ratify international treaties on torture, for example, and preventing any attempts to prosecute US citizens for war crimes up to and including genocide.

What little international law now exists in the consequence of nations agreeing treaties with each other reflecting their common interests.  Implementation is sketchy, at best, because it is difficult to enforce findings of fact and breaches of the law by the powerful against the weak.

But that does not mean international law is completely in-effectual, especially between nations of roughly equal power. However even between nations of greatly unequal powers, it can have benign consequences. The UK is about to experience the difficulties associated with not being covered by the huge corpus of EU international law.

International law is probably the only thing preventing Israel from effectively annihilating the population of the Gaza concentration camp. Are you suggesting Israel is only occupying Palestinian territories because it is illegal to do so under international law?

And as for giving Islamists free havens in Europe, that is mostly a matter of domestic, not international law, although the international law on refugees can apply as it does to everyone else. What they do, if they reach Europe, is subject to domestic law, and there is no shortage of official and unofficial discrimination against Muslims, even those who live perfectly peaceful lives.

Presumably you support that too.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Mar 2nd, 2020 at 11:59:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm not sure what the OP really meant, but I can see an argument that the current international establishment results in eternally frozen conflicts in which the various sides have no real motive to push for a lasting resolution because it's much more profitable for them to cash in on those sweet proxy army support bucks, and to grift the international aid agencies rather than pretend to create an economy or provide for the people unfortunate enough to live in their domain.

So, if international law and international interference and international meddling disappeared entirely, there would likely be quite a few old conflicts quickly pursued to their final and bloody conclusion, old-school state formation, and then a way forward. Maybe.

Or mass atrocity and nuclear war. It's hard to say. As bad as the current situation is, I cannot really beleive that the alternative would be better for anybdoy alive today.

by Zwackus on Thu Mar 5th, 2020 at 12:48:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's a bit like saying we shouldn't have domestic criminal law - just let the criminals fight it out and kill each other and maybe some of the rest of the population will be spared their worst depredations - provided they toe the line of whatever gang is in power in their area.

Yes criminal law enforcement is patchy, sometimes corrupt, and the well to do or well connected can get away with most things. Does that mean we should abolish it altogether?

It is even more difficult to enforce international law against the powerful states who refuse to ratify key treaties or ignore those they have ratified. Speeches in the UN don't get you very far, especially if you aren't a permanent member of the security council.

The powerful tend to use international law when it suits them and ignore it when it doesn't - giving the impression that it is but another tool to impose their rule on the weak. But breaches of international law on human rights, for example, can embarrass and constrain even the most powerful, and if international trade treaties don't work, why put so much effort into negotiating them?

I could go on - international law covers nuclear proliferation, disarmament, land mines, chemical and biological weapons, treatment of prisoners, refugees, human rights, trade, environment. Those who criticise it generally do so because it doesn't go far enough, or that enforcement is selective.

All valid criticisms, but to argue it should be abolished is just bonkers. Some people never learned, or have forgotten the lessons of two world wars, and why we haven't had a third one by now.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Mar 5th, 2020 at 09:48:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Britain is uncomfortable because Ireland has the upper hand for the first time
The UK - unable to conceive of Ireland as a nation realising its voice on an international stage - instead has found it easier to resort to long-held stereotypes, casting Varadkar and Coveney as naive slaves of the EU, unwittingly preparing themselves for sacrifice at the hands of the Brussels elite later down the line.

And as Brexiteers realised the error of their own ways - not in trying to leave the bloc but in underestimating precisely how difficult it would be - they have attempted to blame a nasty and vindictive EU, or a foolish and naive Ireland, for the all the difficulties they have encountered. But ascribing the mistakes made by the UK government to bad faith negotiating from the EU, and reducing Varadkar to the image of an idolatrous Taoiseach begging for help from the malevolent forces in Brussels is a stunningly unsubtle attempt at a get-out, designed to detract from the UK's own errors.

And as the next phase gets under way, with the likelihood of striking a trade deal looking vanishingly unlikely, we are left with an unavoidable conclusion: that attacks about "little Ireland's ridiculous leaders" and the "naive", "dishonest" approach they took to negotiations comes not from a place of confidence but insecurity about what lies in store for Brexit Britain.



Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Feb 28th, 2020 at 10:47:07 AM EST
The ongoing propaganda campaign being waged by the Leavers is to convince people in the UK they are being attacked and so must rally around their leaders, uniting to defend the country from foreign aggressors.  Thus the horsepucky about The Miracle of Dunkirk, the Plucky Spitfire pilots of The Battle of Britain, & blah-blah-blah.

It's all pathetically standard authoritarian nationalist BS.  

The reason it is pathetically standard authoritarian nationalist BS is that it works.


She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Fri Feb 28th, 2020 at 04:13:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And once the EU starts taking measures to protect the single market from being undercut by deregulated Britain, prepare for cries of Continental BlockadeTM, with Michel Barnier as the new Napoleon.

Dwindling trade and relations with the EU27 will further isolate the British people from the other Europeans, so it's definitely a plus for the Tories.

by Bernard on Sat Feb 29th, 2020 at 08:51:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And yet people snickered and laughed when I suggested that the way forward for the UK would be a surprise military strike on Brussels.
by Zwackus on Thu Mar 5th, 2020 at 12:49:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Both sides in talks on Britain's future relationship with EU expect early bust-up
Seeking to strengthen its position going into the talks, Britain has made a clumsy attempt to put a few cards back into play in the hope that it can wring concessions from the EU in return for keeping commitments it has already made.

This helps to explain Gove's doublespeak about the Northern Ireland protocol in the Commons on Thursday, when he promised to respect it but insisted that there would be no border in the Irish Sea.

---<snip>---

Gove said he hoped there was clarity that the government would implement the withdrawal agreement and respect the protocol. Yet suspicion runs so deep in Brussels that senior officials were scrutinising the preposition in Gove's assurance that Britain would undertake the negotiations "without prejudice and with full respect to" the Northern Ireland protocol and wondering why he said "to" and not "for".

This is, of course, exactly the kind of confusion London is hoping to sow but by playing with the protocol in this way Johnson's government risks unnerving an already anxious community in Northern Ireland.

It is also likely to erode further any confidence in European capitals that the prime minister can be trusted to keep his word, encouraging other leaders to insist on the strictly binding commitments Britain is seeking to avoid.



Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Feb 28th, 2020 at 11:00:09 AM EST
Not much room for adult conversation when one side is throwing a tantrum, screaming "IF YOU DON'T DO WHAT I WANT I'M GOING TO HOLD MY BREATH UNTIL I TURN BLUE AND THEN YOU'LL BE SORRY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Fri Feb 28th, 2020 at 04:15:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by Cat on Sat Feb 29th, 2020 at 04:59:20 AM EST
The big brains are at work:
by generic on Sun Mar 1st, 2020 at 01:00:21 PM EST
UK firms search for new Irish trade routes to avoid Brexit customs woes - Politico.eu
One industry representative said firms are planning to reroute EU goods, which are usually imported through U.K. ports like Dover and Harwich, into Ireland and then across the border into Northern Ireland, and even across to Great Britain, in the hope that checks will be minimal.

They added that Northern Ireland could become a "manufacturing paradise" for companies that export to the EU and the rest of the U.K., and predicted firms would base themselves there to take advantage of the situation.

Another industry representative said some household name firms are looking at using the porous Irish border to avoid customs procedures altogether, even those that the government hopes to have in place by January 1. There are concerns that a lax approach to the frontier could increase the chances of smuggling and fraud, with future cooperation on security between the two sides currently unclear.

The first representative said they had not heard of any such intentions, but that it would not be a surprise. "There will be lots of entrepreneurial businesses that have extremely talented people who will be able to find the most efficient routes and the most cost-effective ways of doing things," they said. "So it doesn't surprise me that people are looking for new ways of approaching the Northern Ireland border issue."

by Bernard on Mon Mar 9th, 2020 at 05:29:18 PM EST
Another industry representative said some household name firms are looking at using the porous Irish border to avoid customs procedures altogether

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Mon Mar 9th, 2020 at 07:22:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]


Display:
Go to: [ European Tribune Homepage : Top of page : Top of comments ]