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Peter Foster @pmdfoster
, 13 tweets, 4 min read Read on Twitter
Is @MichelBarnier feeling nervous that the European Commission and Task Force 50 are at risk of being isolated by @theresa_may #Brexit diplomacy?

He's published an OpEd in 20 papers. Mostly boilerplate, but some lines to read between. 1/

@MichelBarnier @theresa_may First the isolation point. Doth M. Barnier protest too much? What need this OpEd now? The mandate is the mandate, after all, so why the need to restate these positions while everyone is on holiday?

Not to be over-stated, but.... /2
There are voices around - and not just British voice - who question whether Barnier is being that 'helpful'.

Not everyone agrees with this very strong Commission assessment of role of services in goods, and the marginal advantage Chequers would bring. /3
And it's interesting that Barnier, after going hard after UK 'enhanced equivalence' request on financial services now, per @alexebarker now seems to have cooled his jets. Brits were furious he trashed the idea in July 20 press conference. /4…
I've recently heard EU diplomats of northern trading states grumbling privately about Barnier trashing the all-UK backstop offer;

The Poles also questioned Ireland strategy at GAC, tho am told got slapped down hard by French and German reps. /5
All this to be expected - and to be clear I am NOT buying UK divide and rule narrative.

But there IS some eye-rolling at the Commission/Barnier. And a bit more than in phase 1.

Not that the Brits have thus far ever operationalised it. /6
The issue with the Financial Services/equivalence row was that Barnier went after it BEFORE it had even been discussed in meeting. Then he rows back, given that the 'offer' is really a UK cave-in/acceptance.

It creates a sense of capriciousness... /7
You can see it in the sentence of this paragraph...the sly dig, the little niggle. The reminder that EU is a behemoth of 440m...and Little Old England (pop 65m) will be a fragment, trapped in mid-Atlantic limbo. /8
The rest of it is boilerplate, though note the reminder on Gibraltar, and the outstanding issue of 'Geographical Indications' (Parmesan Cheese etc) which the EU wants the UK to concede on. /9
Point is that has already signalled a direction of travel on GIs by announcing it's own register.

Just another example of where UK is clearly orientating to EU not US, as also with the offer on state aid, competition and the rulebook./10
The question, I suppose - as May meets Macron and the presses its case in EU capitals - is whether Barnier needs to stick his oar in here? Or why he feels the need to put his hand up? Why not stay quiet? Wait and watch a bit /11
As he well knows, the offer of a "new and ambitious partnership" skates over the reality of the customs border in the Irish Sea which he wants to "de-dramatise" - but for the Brits it's a 'thing' not a chimera. /12
That's why this stuff is so hard. It's about real things.

Is this kind of intervention helpful? Is it necessary? Says nothing new. Just stirs the pot a bit, at a key moment in this process.

Small thing in the grand scheme, to be sure. /13 ENDS
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