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katya adler @BBCkatyaadler
, 19 tweets, 3 min read Read on Twitter
EU diplomats shrug at what they view as U.K. hysteria over Canada+ or Chequers #Brexit debate. The EU says the choice was never the UK’s alone 1
EU viewsChequers as a U.K. government position. Not an end in itself. Brussels aim: to navigate between Chequers and EU red lines.. 2
Accusation I often hear in Brussels is that U.K. Brexit negotiators are fine wordsmiths but that there’s often little meaning behind the words 3
Brexit means Brexit is an obvious example but EU diplomats also cite the Chequers offer of keeping a common rule book with the U.K. after Brexit 4
The view in Brussels is that the phrase is hollow as the U.K. does not offer to harmonise production standards with the EU too. Anyone wanting to sell goods in another country has to follow their rule book, say EU civil servants. Look at Chinese imports to the EU 5
EU Brexit negotiators have long told me they think the U.K. would get further in negotiations if it built on Canada +++ than on EEA minus 6
Because, EU diplomats say, the U.K. is “wasting time” demanding the impossible: having full access to some parts of the single market but not others 7
As for the withdrawal agreement, while the Irish border backstop is still the biggest stumbling block - diplomats from EU countries believe ‘acceptable wording’ will be found that is acceptable to U.K. as well as EU 8
EU hopes new wording - emphasising A) that the backstop should never be needed if an ambitious trade deal between EU and U.K. is agreed B) listing the ‘minimal’ additional checks the EU would want in place between NI and rest of U.K. .. Will be acceptable to Downing Street 9
“Then we envisage Theresa May being able to proclaim back home that she is saviour of the NI peace process,” one EU diplomat told me “Rather than warning that the backstop will break up the U.K.” 10
There’s big debate now in EU and U.K. circles about the political declaration on their future relationship after Brexit. A number EU leaders say Theresa May told them before the summer that she needed a lot of detail in order for the declaration to be signed off by parliament 11
But detail is problematic too, of course. Brexiteers will object to anything that looks anything like the U.K. compromising on sovereignty issues. Remainer or soft Brexit MP’s will shy away from an arms length relationship with EU 12
“Anyway,” an EU political source told me “We don’t have the time left fir the kind of horse trading necessary to hammer out finer details of the future relationship - such as you give me something on fishing and we’ll give you something on financial services” 13
The feeling in Brussels is that kind of detail can only be bartered into existence after Brexit day next year 13
The EU is absolutely focused now on getting through this autumn with the withdrawal bill and a political declaration (detail and length still tbc) signed off so that the transition period till end if 2020 is assured 14
With negotiations looking like they’ll go to the wire, the Commission is concerned to keep jumpier EU governments and business from agreeing so-called no deal deals with the U.K. 15
These are bilateral deals in certain sectors in the case that no wider EU/UK deal is reached in time and the U.K. ends up ‘crashing out’ of the EU 16
I see no evidence though of some U.K. claims that EU member states are “fed up” with the inflexibility of M Barnier and the Commission and want to take over negotiating with the U.K. in a more ‘creative manner’ 17
Certainly there are plenty of grumbles about Barnier amongst member states but not enough to overthrow him and his mandate. Crucially also the Big Two: France and Germany are behind him 18
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