Sunday, July 23, 2017

When did Britain become family in the European Union?

We may analyse Europe as a process. Europe grew as an entity from wars among nations, gripped in warfare over centuries. It had winners and losers, most often it was losers.

by Victor Cherubim-
( July 22, 2017, London, Sri Lanka Guardian) Britain’s Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, stated in Parliament earlier this week, “EU leaders can go whistle” amid claims that Britain’s withdrawal bill could be as high as Euro 100 billion (£87.6 bn. and EU Negotiator Barnier said in response “I am not hearing any whistling, just the clock ticking.”
In Round 2 of the negotiations on Brexit in Brussels, we see Britain is under pressure to be willing to action key aspects of EU plans, which no longer command a majority in Parliament.
There is no change in the belief that all details will be hammered out in 20 months. Thus a longer transition period may be required. Whether this can be negotiated is a separate question.
There seems to be two sticking points:
1. The financial settlement.
2. The fundamentals of Britain’s future relationship.
With the slender majority, the most noticeable feature inside Parliament is to minimise the number of votes in the Commons. Legislation is to be the last resort, not the first.
Britain and the EU are poles apart
We have to understand the background of Europe and the origins, traditions and unwritten laws and conventions in UK to wonder why after 40 odd years of association, the time is now for a separation of ways.
We may analyse Europe as a process. Europe grew as an entity from wars among nations, gripped in warfare over centuries. It had winners and losers, most often it was losers.
Britain on the other hand barely recovered from the economic and social trauma of World War I. Some historians would say, it hardly recovered from World War II, aside from the moral high ground.
Europe was able to dominate the world for 500 years previous, with United States rebuilding Europe after the Second World War with Marshall Plan of US$13 billion (say $130 bn in current values). European domination as some would say was an accident of history.
On the other hand, United Kingdom came out of being an Imperial Power but really wanted to hold on to its status as a world power. After WWII, Winston Churchill said that “there should be a European Union, a sort of United States of Europe, but Britain should not be in it”.
EU and Britain are both poles apart because each sees things differently; they have a different view of politics, economics, law and life.
Britain is an island, detached from the Continent. Europe is a mainland. They are as close as neighbours but their mindset is so far apart. The Sun newspaper iconic headline: “Up Yours Delors”. (Jacques Delors was European Commissioner 1985-1995).
Britain perhaps didn’t need Europe, so much so on Black Wednesday in 1992 it “crashed out” of the Euro. Britain felt it was ruled by barmy Brussels bureaucrats and
“po faced EU pen pushers” who liked to ban pounds and ounces ( British weights and measures),bendy bananas and force Britain into “Eurocondoms”.
The signs of acrimony were ahead, even before the row over British beef during the BSE crisis. Europe is methodical, however, in Britain, legitimacy and consensual politics is the order of the day. Europe considers public opinion as “fuddy duddy.” Britain has an “atlantic” view on economic competition, market outcomes, and freedom to act within the law. In Europe, “you do what we tell you.”
In Britain, if something does not work you change it. It perhaps can be stated, that the EU would hardly show flexibility, because that is not how it works. We have seen and are seeing a clash of mindsets: one pragmatic, the other dogmatic.
EU could not tolerate Britain at heart?
Time and again, over the years of membership of the EU, Britain always wanted things done differently. Britain was seen to be a reluctant partner. We see the clash over the Common Agricultural Policy; the opting out of the Euro, Britain always wanted concessions, whether on Gibraltar, Northern Ireland border issues, on a politically United Europe.
Europe was fed up of giving permanent concessions, as far as they saw it, to Britain, whilst the other members went along with the majority. Was the EU Referendum, a blessing in disguise?
It is very difficult for Euro members to, allow, accept or tolerate London to remain the trading centre for Europe and for the Euro. The volume of Euro/Dollar trading alone was some $600 billion a day in 2016. Who would tolerate such a high proportion of financial activity of their currency taking place abroad? Small wonder why France is waiting for Brexit, while smiling at Theresa May?
Europe and UK was a marriage of convenience for both. They were not my words, but the words of Guy Verhofstadt, a diehard Belgian Europhile, of the European Parliament, who took a swipe at Britain.
But it would be unfair to sum up that the EU wanted to see the back of UK. In actual reality, they both wanted each other. They looked to each other to speak with one voice, on most, if not all matters. Britain could never play ball on these terms? Britain was too shrewd; she only wanted Europe as a trading partner?
Negotiation v negotiation
1. The EU still believes it will win, why, because it refuses to believe that the UK
will walk out? It has misjudged how UK politics works in the past? We see the shock in the faces of EU negotiators who may finally come to understand that Theresa May is “dead serious” that: no deal is better than a bad deal.”
Much of the tough talk on EU side is because they think Britain is bluffing.
It seems like a dogmatic voice hitting a pragmatic ear.
2. Britain maintains you cannot pick and choose the referee for legal disputes after
Brexit. The jurisdiction of European Courts of Justice may end in respect at least for regulating the movement of nuclear materials or pharmaceuticals across borders.
3. The strangest of all situations is that both the EU and Britain are in negotiation. But, neither of them hears what is said by the other, or so it seems. This is the saddest story. There is denial of seriousness on both sides. This denial may after all cost both sides.
4. EU has misjudged the UK at every turn over centuries. Each side truly believes that other is deluded. There is a very real risk of a no deal outcome. Some say, Britain has prepared for this scenario since joining the Common Market.
A positives outcome
Everyone is talking. A round of talks will take place in Brussels every month after taking summer recess until October 2017. Perhaps, a breakthrough may come about by chance.
I consider, Britain to be pragmatic to bring about a positive outcome and the bell will determine the rest. Who knows?