The Brexit Trap

The EU is increasing the pressure on Great Britain. London ought to present concrete proposals, according to chief negotiator Barnier. His counterpart, Davis, did just that. Brexit is proving to be an impossible undertaking – the Brits are trapped.

‘To be honest, I’m concerned’, said Barnier at the start of the third round of negotiations. The British have to clarify their positions, he announced; the papers submitted so far did not suffice.

Davis, on the other hand, demanded more ‘flexibility and imagination’ from the EU. This would be the only way of making progress. He referred to a number of strategy documents that his ministry had published.

In these, London requests for negotiations about the exit and a future agreement to take place simultaneously. The EU, however, strongly rejects this. And this is the first part of the Brexit trap.

What is negotiable, anyway?

Brussels is trying to set the agenda but London has its own. If the order cannot even be agreed upon, then discussions will come to nothing.

The second part of the Brexit trap is even more perfidious. Both sides have obviously completely different ideas about what is politically negotiable – and what isn’t.

While the British were discussing ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ Brexit and brought transition periods into play, the Europeans grumbled, saying it was all too vague. It lacked clear positions.

The Brits are gambling – really?

But now that Davis is presenting his papers, it’s still not right. Now the British are much too technical, their suggestions are only wishful thinking and not feasible.

The ‘Süddeutsche’ put the official interpretation in a nutshell: ‘The British gamble’. ‘The British – and not Brussels – are contemplating Brexit creatively’, countered the ‘Spectator’.

The British magazine has a point. The EU side had already tightened its position in spring – and has since refused to deviate from it. This makes negotiations almost impossible.

‚They want to cherry-pick ‘

It becomes particularly absurd when the British propose to maintain the status quo in individual policy areas. Then ‘they want to cherry-pick’ is echoing back from Brussels and Berlin.

The question pops up: Does the EU want to drive Brexit forward – or do they possibly want to prevent it, after all? Council president Tusk has already outed himself: He dreams of an ‘exit from Brexit’…

The original post (in German) is here