The EU slams Theresa May’s Brexit option; sets base for own European defense, security platform

Angela Merkel, German Federal Chancellor and Emmanuel Macron, President of France delivering a joint Press conference after last week’s EU Summit. Shoot location: Brussels – Belgium. Shoot date: 23/06/2017. Copyright: European Union.

Last week’s EU Summit in Brussels set a solid base for the frictionless functioning of the European Union of 27, minus Britain. For one thing, the UK Prime Minister Theresa May fell on a solid wall of distrust. The mainland leaders ostentatiously repelled her vague offer, about the position after the Brexit of the around 3 million EU citizens living and working in Britain. Her offer has left open a lot of important aspects, which will presumably become the object of negotiations as of today.

Alas, the London government couldn’t shun its bad self and insisted on making the livelihood of millions of Europeans a tradable good. By the same token, the position of more than one million of Britons living and working in mainland Europe is at issue as well. Seemingly, the London Brexiteers don’t mind making a ‘tradable asset’ of their compatriots either.

Clearly, PM May made one more blunder in this affair, thinking that the EU leaders would accept her misty offer, giving her the opportunity to exploit the vagueness at a later stage. Brussels has clarified that the issue of people living and working in the ‘wrong’ place must be fully settled first thing in the line of setting the Brexit terms. It’s most certain by now that the EU will soon get cast-iron safeguards from weakened Britain, for those who live and work on the other side.

Another blunder

Last Thursday, May with her deceitful proposal, let down not only the entire mainland Europe but a large part of her own Tory party. Many of them had voted ‘remain’ in last year’s referendum and today they insist on an amicable Brexit. 10 Downing St. having understood that this attempted cheat was becoming a boomerang, rushed to leak that there will be a full relevant proposal today, Monday. Hopefully the Brexiteers have understood by now that they cannot continue on their deceitful game, as they managed to do in June 2016, convincing 51.9% of the Brits to vote ‘leave’.

Unfortunately for May, the UK is only too anxious to start negotiations for a trade deal, but the EU is adamant that this can be discussed only after the Brexit terms are agreed. Her demand that the two issues are discussed in parallel is already dead. The EU has clearly won the first round. This reality has weighted on the way the Tory ‘remainers’ are defending their alternative. Philip Hammond, the Chancellor of the Exchequer (minister for Finance) is a prominent member of this group.

Problems within and without

Having voted ‘remain’ in June 2016, Hammond accepted to serve the result and was given the second most important job in the government. However, last week he came out strongly pressing 10 Downing Street, to conclude a Brexit deal with Brussels the soonest possible, after May appears to procrastinate. Otherwise, he said Britain will be drained from foreign investments, badly needed not only for growth but for balancing the hugely deficitary foreign balance. The pound sterling has already felt the impact of the uncertainty.

In view of all that, the 27 EU leaders sent May away, without deliberating with her. The 27 accepted EU Council President Donald Tusk’s proposal not to engage in official dialogue with May. He said that any discussion with the Brits should be conducted by the negotiation team under Michel Barnier, who was present. After May left, Barnier updated the 27 leaders about the state of negotiations with the British team.

EU 27 sets own defense base

With the Brit away, Emmanuel Macron the new triumphant French President, found the opportunity, in his first participation in a EU Summit, to lay down his plan. He said that the Berlin-Paris axis is to become as powerful as ever. He also confirmed his electoral promises about a new joint Franco-German endeavor, for a full revitalization of the European project. Macron concluded that “Europe is not just an idea. It’s a plan and an ambition”.

After the Summit, Macron and the German Chancellor Angela Merkel delivered a joint Press conference in the room of France. Usually after the Summits, the leaders hold a Press conference of their own, in the room designated for their country. In this case the two choose to hold a common conference, aimed at emphasizing their newfound affinity.

Franco-German axis revitalized

The Franco-German axis has already started to function more smoothly just after the electoral triumph of Macron. Last week though, this newfound affiliation made a big step forward. Paris and Berlin led the EU Council to take a pivotal decision for a common European defense project, independent from NATO and the US. In the Conclusions Communiqué after last week’s Summit, the 27 leaders undersigned the following passage: ”The European Council welcomes the Commission’s communication on a European Defence Fund, composed of a research window and a capability window… It calls for rapid agreement on the proposal for a European Defence Industrial Development Programme and on Member States to identify suitable capability projects for the European Defence Fund and for the European Defence Industrial Development Programme. The European Council invites the Member States to further work on options for the joint procurement of capabilities within the European Defence Fund based on sound financing mechanisms”.

A new common European defense base

This is more or less a proclamation for the creation of a joint European industrial defense base, outside the NATO and the traditional EU-US platforms. In this respect, Brussels and more precisely the powerful EU Commission, clearly energized by Paris and Berlin, is swiftly advancing the plan for a common European defense and security backdrop. This tendency was present in Brussels a long time before Trump’s America threatened Europe with a divorce.

However, Britain was there to safeguard the NATO-US omnipotence in Europe’s defense and security affairs, by vetoing every proposal for independent structures. Right from the moment the UK decided to leave the EU, France and Germany introduced proposals and managed to promote decisions towards the creation of a powerful and independent European defense and security complex. With Macron those initiatives are now bound to be greatly strengthened and the European military capabilities will soon be visible.

In conclusion, the exit of Britain from the EU and the revitalized Paris-Berlin axis will probably give birth to a new era in the European project. As for the Brexit negotiations, it is obvious that the Brexiteers camp is losing grounds fast and May will pay the price of her mistakes.

 

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