, 15 tweets, 3 min read Read on Twitter
The EU is in watch and wait mode but this is some of the thinking going on behind the scenes ahead of tonight’s vote in parliament #Brexit 1
EU leaders have no Plan B up their sleeve(s). They will only BEGIN to start talking together about a What Next after tonight’s vote 2
The EU sees no point in the PM flying out here this week if the #Brexit deal suffers a huge defeat today in parliament. EU leaders have nothing ready to say to her 3
Time may be 'running out' but the EU believes the debate still has a way to go in the UK and there is no need for Brussels to take any action yet. They think something in the UK has to change first 4
EU waiting to see if: a) MPs start uniting around ONE alternative to current deal (eg Norway/permanent customs union). They could then explain away any “softening” of the EU stance by pointing to previous EU statements saying if the UK’s red lines change then so will the EU’s 5
NB This is because the current divorce deal is designed around the premise that UK is leaving the customs union and single market 6
OR b) MPs unite around one particular change to deal and PM tells Brussels that parliament will approve agreement if they grant that change. In that case EU will likely be more flexible that has indicated so far. Leaders want to avoid a no deal Brexit BUT.. 7
Spoiler alert: not at any cost. The EU will not give up having a guarantee on the Irish border. For them it guarantees the peace process, supports member state Ireland and protects single market post Brexit 8
President Juncker is doing creative thinking at the moment. His time as Commission Chief is due to end this year and he’s thinking about his legacy. He doesn’t want EU citizens and businesses suffering a costly and chaotic no deal Brexit on his watch BUT 9
Juncker won't want to take action that would blatantly allow UK to have cake and eat it either. He won’t want to be remembered as Commission Chief who encouraged other EU members to leave or to flout EU rules and regs by giving in to the UK “too much” in a final Brexit deal 10
NB Mr Juncker alone does not have the legal power to change any part of the Brexit deal. It needs the agreement of the member states 11
Of the big EU powers Berlin is more pragmatic than Paris. Macron prefers a softer Brexit but it would even suit his EU agenda if there is a costly no deal. He believes it would prove his point that countries – even big, strong ones like the UK - are better off in the club 12
On extension to article 50 - this is not a given. The UK would have to ask for it officially. Then all EU member states have to unanimously vote in favour. Macron hates the idea of an extension 13
General EU consensus is: extension is not problem if it’s to pass necessary legislation through parliament to get the deal passed OR if it is for a concrete reason in which to end this phase in order to move on to the post-Brexit trade negotiations 14
No appetite in EU to extend in order to prolong uncertainty for EU citizens and businesses with UK parliament keeping on going round in circles 15
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