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Simon Usherwood @Usherwood
, 19 tweets, 4 min read Read on Twitter
A quick run-through of how the EU has dealt with non-approval of treaties, just, you know, in case:

I'll start by noting this very useful book by @dermot_hodson and Imelda Maher, who are very much worth reading on this

In short, the EU doesn't like re-opening texts, so failures to approve result in efforts to give the non-approver enough political space to accept the same legal text

You see this with the ratification problems for Maastricht (with the Danes), Nice and Lisbon (both Ireland), where political declarations were formulated by the national gvt, then supported by EU, before second referendums took place

But - you rightly say - this isn't like that, because treaty modifications like those aren't the same as Art.50.

These cases see the whole EU waiting on the one state to approve, whereas Art.50 won't hold back the EU from working

So do we have any examples like that?

Not exactly, but there are some interesting almost-equivalences

First, we might look at the CETA treaty with Canada, where the Walloon parliament blocked ratification.

Here again an internal compromise was brokered in Belgium, before being uploaded alongside the CETA text…

Second, we could go back to the 1950s and the EDC saga

There's lots to it (and @CVCEeu has some good resources (…), but the nub was that there was a treaty signed and largely ratified on defence

Ironically, the French, who'd proposed the treaty and who stood to gain most (in terms of leadership in W.Eur) where the barrier to finishing off ratification, with worries about sovereignty and re-arming the FRG

In the end, the French parliament parked discussion on ratification, effectively killing off the text.

But the core elements of German re-armament still took place, via the enlargement of what became the West European Union, ie there was an alternative structure available

In that, it's a bit like the Constitutional Treaty process in the 2000s, where rejections in referendums by the Dutch and French parked the substantive changes to treaties, but eventually saw most of them get re-packaged into the Lisbon treaty

The overall impression thus might be taken as follows:

- the EU can be slow to make decisions, but once made, it's determined to follow them through

- those who don't/can't approve those decisions that they've helped make will get some political slack, but no legal slack

- if one legal form does get blocked, then other legal forms are available, which will get used to pursue roughly the same substantive outcome

To tie this back to Brexit, this points (once again) to the hugely unlikely giving of concessions to the UK on the substance of the WA/backstop by the EU, especially as this isn't a case of one-holding-back-many

It also suggests that if there is a no-deal, then the EU is very likely to focus initially on securing the same guarantees that it put in the WA (on IE, on finances, on citizens) before moving on to anything else

And finally it suggests that a key part of making any of these things work is a non-approving state having clear ideas and plans for resolving the problem: the EU isn't there to wipe bottoms

Which doesn't bode well for the current situation

In sum, not so uncharted as May might have suggested

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