Brexit: PM May must hush Boris Johnson to unlock the negotiations

From left to right: Emmanuel Macron, President of France, Angela Merkel, German Federal Chancellor, Christian Kern, Austrian Federal Chancellor. Shoot location: Tallinn – Estonia. Shoot date: 29/09/2017 Copyright: European Union.

Last Thursday night in Tallinn, the Estonian capital, the French President Emmanuel Macron, backed by the German Chancellor Angela Merkel, told the British Prime Minister Theresa May, there will be no change in the agenda of the Brexit talks; first the terms of the divorce will be agreed and then the future trade relations between Britain and the European Union will be discussed. The UK has been insisting that the two subjects must be discussed and decided in parallel. Obviously, London counts on tough bargaining for a future more or less full access to the EU internal markets, against a least costly Brexit for Britain in money and political terms.

Currently, the negotiations are rather stuck in regard to those terms. What May said on Friday 22 September about a transition period, in her much advertised speech staged in Florence, Italy, doesn’t seem to have broken the stalemate. And this despite that it “created a new dynamic”, as the EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier conceded. He added though that “the transition should be discussed in the second phase of negotiations”.

A Florentine proposal

From Florence the British MP proposed a two year interim period after March 2019 for the full Brexit terms to be applied. The European Sting followed her there. According to May, during this period, presumably until March 2021, Britain will continue as if it were a member of the EU, with full access to the European internal market and normal participation in the Customs Union. She clarified that the UK is ready to pay for this provisional arrangement the equivalent of the country’s contributions to the EU Budget, amounting to around €20 billion. Understandably, this sum is on top of the ‘cost of the Brexit’ for UK, as Brussels estimated it at anything between €40bn and €60bn.

At this point, we should sum up the state of the Brexit discussions. The EU insists – the 27 leaders have taken unanimously a relevant decision – the talks must first clarify three key issues related to the exit terms and then negotiate the future trade and otherwise relations. 10 Downing Street demands that the exit terms and the future trade agreement should be negotiated in parallel. This was and still is the reason the talks are stuck. Now, Barnier says that not even the ‘interim period’ proposal can be discussed, if the exit terms are not agreed. Let’s dig a bit into those three issues Brussels wants to be agreed first.

It’s always the sovereignty

The future status of mainland citizens who live and work in Britain and vice versa for the Brits in the Continent is the first subject that Brussels wants to be settled. Of the same opinion are the British trade unions representing workers (TUC) and the employers (CBI). London says none will have to leave Britain. There are a lot of details though which have to be clarified in this respect, like the rights of family unification, deciding who has that right, etc. Last Friday, Barnier once more said that those cases have to be judged by the European Courts. Britain denies the jurisdiction of the EU Court after March 2019 and insists it will be the country’s legal system to decide on similar cases.

However, differences about the jurisdiction of the courts appear in equally important topics, like the settlement of commercial disputes after Brexit and until March 2021. Similar issues may arise in relation to the functioning of the Internal Market and the Customs Union. Hypothetically, during the transition period Britain will act as a full member regarding all those key EU institutions. But, there cannot be other magistrates and judges deciding on relevant questions, than the ones of European Courts. There is a huge European legal edifice developed through decades, which regulates both the Internal Market and the Customs Union. It’s absurd to think that the British courts may discuss cases pertaining to central EU institutions.

A matter of pride?

Given the apparent deadlock tough, May’s proposal for an interim period of no change at all, is tantamount to London contemplating to accept the jurisdiction of the EU Court in Britain after Brexit. In Florence, May, addressing the topic of EU citizens living and working in Britain said “we want you to stay, we value you”. And then in relation to which courts will rule on their status and rights she added “on this basis, our teams can reach firm agreement quickly”.

It’s an obvious reference to the prospect, that the final agreement, after voted in the Commons and becoming UK law, may foresee the continuation of the EU Courts jurisdiction in Britain, at least during the interim period. Yet it will be rather difficult for 10 Downing Street to ‘sell’ such an arrangement to the Brexiteer Brits. Boris Johnson, her minister of Foreign Affairs – an unscrupulous populist Brexiteer  repeatedly caught liying flagrantly – has turned the courts’ jurisdiction issue into a matter of ‘national pride’. As if this has not been the case for the last 44 years, after Britain joined the EU 1973.

What else?

The other two issues, to be agreed before trade is discussed, are equally complicated. The second question is the cost London has to pay for the divorce, coming to tens of billions of euros. The discussion has started from a bottom line of €20 billion and  will very probably continue until every other issue is settled, including the court jurisdiction topic. Money can nicely settle differences of ‘pride’. As the American President Abraham Lincoln famously said ‘when someone says it’s a matter of principles not money, then it’s a matter of money’. Nothing can be more true than this in the case of Brexit.

The third topic is of no less importance. It’s about the historically existing but invisible today border line of 499 km, between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. The two parts of Ireland communicate now as if there is no border at all. After Brexit though the northern part will leave the EU as a part of UK, but the Republic will remain in the European Union. Legally and logically then real borders have to be installed , controlling the movements of people, goods and capital.

The Irish question

However, if real hard borders are installed everybody agrees that Northern Ireland will be greatly destabilized. Building control posts and customs booths in the only land border between the UK and the EU may trigger economic and political disorder in the north. So, both Brussels and London have accepted that not-burdened communication between the two parts of Ireland should be safeguarded. This may require large investments in technology and personnel in order to make the border almost indiscernible. However, the final arrangement on the island depends largely on the overall agreement between the UK and the EU.

In conclusion, if what happened in Tallinn will be repeated at the 19 October EU Summit, Britain will be compelled to conform to the realities of Brexit. To do this, 10 Downing Street would be obliged to get rid of extremist Brexiteers like Boris Johnson. He has recently published 4000 words in a daily newspaper, to strongly oppose a smooth Brexit.

 

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Code of Practice against disinformation: Commission calls on signatories to intensify their efforts

Trade wars won’t fix globalization. Here’s why

Does Indonesia have the world’s most complicated elections?

Sustainable fisheries: Commission takes stock of the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy and launches consultation on the fishing opportunities for 2021

A lack of affordable homes is forcing young Britons to live with their parents

Iraq: UN human rights report voices concern over conduct of ISIL fighter trials

Urgently address ‘defining challenges of our time’, to empower youth worldwide, top UN official tells forum

The middle-class dream is moving beyond millennial reach

The ASEAN Community sees the light: the genesis of a new powerful economic and political bloc and EU’s big opportunity

Here are 3 alternative visions for the future of work

We have the tools to beat climate change. Now we need to legislate

Trump’s America divides the world, bullies China and Europe

This is why many young people have no access to proper education

Who will secure Lithuania?

EU budget 2019 approved: focus on the young, innovation and migration

This study wants every child in the UK to spend a night under the stars

3 reasons we should all care about biodiversity

UN agriculture agency chief calls on world’s mayors to make ‘global commitments local realities’

Zuckerberg preaches that Artificial Intelligence will protect Data Privacy in Facebook whereas Verhofstadt demands the big European state to take charge

Coronavirus is officially a pandemic – but we can change its course: Today’s WHO briefing

South Sudan ‘revitalized’ peace deal must be inclusive, Security Council hears

Overcoming the paralysis of trust management across a fractured IT landscape

Here’s how the EU is doing on gender equality

Here’s how to achieve growth in the Middle East and North Africa

Iceland won’t talk with Brussels about EU accession

OECD will follow Canadian proceedings addressing allegations of political interference in foreign bribery prosecution

How businesses can create an ethical culture in the age of tech

UN expert ‘shocked’ by Egyptian reprisals against human rights defenders she met

Managing and resolving conflicts in a politically inclined group of team members

Who should be responsible for protecting our personal data?

Inspiring medical students to choose primary health care

This house is made entirely out of recycled rubbish

EU members commit to build an integrated gas market and finally cut dependency on Russia

A Sting Exclusive: “Europe needs decisive progress for stronger cybersecurity”, EU Commissioner Gabriel highlights from Brussels

Tsipras doesn’t seem to have learned his “almost Grexit” lesson and Greece faces again financial and political dead end

These are the countries that have made their climate commitments law

World must do more to tackle ‘shadowy’ mercenary activities undermining stability in Africa, says UN chief

European Youth Forum celebrates 20 years of fighting for youth rights

COVID-19 tracing apps: MEPs stress the need to preserve citizens’ privacy

EU budget: Making the EU fit for its role as strong global actor

Brunei’s new penal code would enshrine ‘cruel and inhuman punishments’ UN rights chief warns

EU budget: Commission proposes most ambitious Research and Innovation programme yet

MEPs call on Russia to stop illegitimate prosecution of Lithuanian judges

Parliament: EU27 need €2 trillion recovery package to tackle COVID-19 fallout

What have the banks done to the markets making them unable to bear cheap oil?

This is the life of a refugee: the constant destruction and construction of dreams every day

Cash-strapped cities must look to private partners

How the gender commuting gap could be harming women’s careers

Why AI will make healthcare personal

One million facing food shortages, nutrition crisis after Mozambique cyclones: UNICEF

Inflation and interest rates indicate urgent need for action

Humanitarian aid: EU steps up support in Nigeria for conflict victims

Future fit: 3 ways fashion can be more sustainable

This is where teachers are paid the most

Italian voters put again the European Peoples in the Brussels picture

From his room with a view, UN chief takes to Instagram with an eye on hope and a brighter future

China by numbers: 10 facts to help you understand the superpower today

Paris agreed with Berlin over a loose and ineffective banking union

UN chief calls for Security Council to work with Myanmar to end ‘horrendous suffering’ of Rohingya refugees

Amid strong outlook for U.S. economy, risks abound

More Stings?

Advertising

Comments

  1. Of the three issues, the most formidable, it seems to me, is the 499 kms of Irish/Ulster frontier. Unless one can imagine each individual carrying a miniature GPS embedded in his skull, (which any professiona terrorist will refuse or will know how to neutralize) I don’t see how electronics could create a virtual border allowing both immigration security and customs be enforced.

Leave a Reply to Andre Teissier du Cros Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s