Georgina Wright Profile picture
Brexit, France & Brussels thinking @instituteforgov. Formerly @ChathamHouse. Bruxelloise.
Birger Leth Profile picture 1 added to My Authors
30 Jun 20
True that not all previous national security advisers (NSA) were "steeped in the security world" but they had worked on security files before taking over the post:
1. Before becoming NSA, @LordRickettsP was chairman of joint intelligence committee, UK permanent representative to NATO and Foreign Office PUS.

2. Before becoming NSA, Sir Kim Darroch was DG for Europe at FCO and Permanent Rep to the EU. Wd have involved security files.
3. Before becoming NSA, Sir Mark Lyall Grant was UK Permanent Representative to the United Nations. Would have involved a number of security files.

4. Before becoming NSA, @marksedwill was FCO Director for Afghanistan & Pakistan and had worked in Afghanistan.
Read 4 tweets
7 Apr 20
Interesting. Want to know how the EU feels about it? Check out my latest for @instituteforgov:

instituteforgovernment.org.uk/blog/eu-are-co…
1. Inevitable: Most in EU think some form of extension is now inevitable. PM is in intensive care, chief negotiators are self-isolating. It is not clear negotiations will happen virtually - and lots of worry that businesses won't be able to adapt both to COVID & new UK-EU regime.
2. Process: it will be up to the UK-EU joint committee (JC) to decide terms (length, ££ contributions to EU budget, etc) by 1 July. EU must also secure member states' approval *before* it agrees to anything in the joint committee. Talks in JC and in EU27 won't be straightforward.
Read 6 tweets
25 Feb 20
Is the draft EU #mandate that different to the final mandate for negotiations with the UK? Answer: not really but there are some interesting nuggets. Thread:
1. Application of WA as important as future UK-EU negotiations: ROI - UK must work well (BIG job for joint committee). Mandate does not mention GB-NI checks but member states will be watching.
2. Process: there will be parallel negotiations (you can imagine goods, security & fish all taking place at the same time). EU negotiators will work closely with the Working Party on UK (that's where EU27 diplomats meet inside the Council). They will also update EU Parliament
Read 17 tweets
30 Jan 20
#Brexit postcard from Paris: what is France thinking? Thread
1. Brexit is not the EU's priority: like the UK, France does not want Brexit dominating the news. Most important EU decisions now are MFF & green deal. Other EU countries think the same as @Mij_Europe said y'day:
2. Trade talks will be far from easy: France (like rest of EU) knows UK wants to diverge - the key concern for France is how to prevent divergence from (i) undercutting EU business & (ii) disrupting trade flows. Trade-off is simple: lower standards, reduced market access.
Read 12 tweets
16 Jan 20
🚨 NEW @instituteforgov REPORT: Influencing the EU after Brexit 🚨. Interested? Thread below.
1. Why influence? There are many reasons why the UK will want to continue to influence the EU after Brexit. But government won't want to influence everything (nor will it be able to). It will also want to do things differently.
2. Decide the UK’s EU priorities: and be upfront about where UK wants to diverge. Ministers must decide and discuss with devolved gov’s. This will determine how the gov’ sets itself up and where it allocates resources
Read 10 tweets
9 Jan 20
Very interesting piece by @JGForsyth on how UK government intends to approach trade & sec talks with EU. Some quick thoughts spectator.co.uk/2020/01/reveal…
1. New government: agree election changes Brexit dynamics (Cabinet consensus but crucially stronger majority in Parliament). With clear direction from the top, and a new taskforce, UK negotiators will know how far they can go/compromise. But negotiation will still be complicated.
2. Sequencing: UK also right to push back on rigid sequencing. But UK also signed up to political declaration. That has some deadlines:
- June: agreement on financial services equivalence
- July: agreement on fish; transition

Only transition is a 'hard' deadline (as in WA).
Read 8 tweets
29 Sep 19
What is France's latest thinking on #Brexit? Quick thread after my visit to Paris last week:
1. Frustration: What does UK *really* want? UK want a deal but have yet to fwd proposals the EU can work with; meanwhile, no guarantee PM cd get a deal through Parliament. ‘Nothing has changed’
2. Brexit deal: France wd prefer a deal to no deal & EU prepared to work ‘until last possible moment’ to reach one; but cannot wait until the 17/18 EU Council for negotiations (too late). "We hope UK realises this"
Read 12 tweets
19 Sep 19
Baffling that many in Britain *still* think Merkel will be the one to help get a #Brexit deal over the line. Yes, Merkel wants a deal as do EU27. But there are limits to what EU leaders can do (short thread):
1. EU leaders have final say, but @EU_Commission negotiates: EU Commission discusses positions with EU27 before & after *each* negotiating round (and is in regular contact with @Europarl_EN & others). EU Commission is not 1 actor among 28, it negotiates on behalf of 27.
2. Feasibility of deal: so if @EU_Commission say "no", it's usually cos EU27 have said no. Yes, there are times when EU leaders are more involved (and they will definitely be more involved in trade & sec talks). But to assume they will have radically different position is.. silly
Read 8 tweets
18 Sep 19
.@JunckerEU and @MichelBarnier addressing @EUparliament on Brexit - main points
1. Backstop proposals: EU still waiting for proposals but confirm that talks have been taking place (though focuses more on what the UK doesn’t want, rather than what it actually does want)
2. Constructive talks: with PM in Luxembourg and “in part” positive. Translation: talk is easy, finding a deal less so.
Read 8 tweets
16 Sep 19
Lux's PM @Xavier_Bettel provides further #Brexit clarity:
1. EU27 want more than a vision (and a promise): they want workable alternatives to the backstop.
2. Extension only possible if it serves a purpose: that is to make a decision, not delay it.
@Xavier_Bettel 3. @Xavier_Bettel clear that ball is in UK court: UK voted to leave, UK now wants to change the deal - then UK must come up with proposals.
4. He also says his wish is to reach a deal - and adds (with a slight note of irritation?): EU respects ref outcome & is not trying to keep UK inside EU
Read 5 tweets
13 Sep 19
Lots of talk about EU changing its position on #Brexit. Are they? Short thread
1. Consistency: “May’s” deal is outcome of *months* of negotiations - where both sides gave in. If UK wants to improve it, then UK must be one to table proposals - and these must respect SM & solve border. Y’day, @MichelBarnier said EU had not seen any.
2. Backstop: EU always said backstop wd only apply “unless and until” alternatives were found- but these alternatives don’t exit yet! So their view is backstop needs to stay.
Read 9 tweets
1 Sep 19
More nuance to what @MichelBarnier is saying, imo. Short thread:
1. WA is the outcome of compromise: two years of "painstaking talks" which covered everything from citizens' rights to data-sharing and Irish border. Subtext: we both negotiated and reached this deal.
2. Backstop is a "carefully crafted" insurance policy. It was also a win for UK negotiators: "At the UK’s request, we agreed to have a UK-wide customs dimension to that backstop" (reminder: EU wanted it to be NI-specific). Subtext: difficult to see how it can be improved.
Read 7 tweets
26 Aug 19
Must read on EU and UK Brexit thinking behind the scenes. Echoes what I wrote last week: not the tour de force PM was hoping for, but EU are willing to hold further talks. EU will wait for UK to put fwd proposals - but are also thinking about options.
V interesting to see *what* the proposals cd be and what EU/UK compromise could be found. Give @Mij_Europe ‘s thread a read.
Read 2 tweets
25 Aug 19
With the EU, something is almost always afoot. It's not that they don't compromise, it's that they know *when* and *how* to compromise. In this case, talks conditional on UK Gov tabling proposals (that work) - until that point, EU rhetoric always going to be "no renegotiation".
Also does not mean they are sitting back & waiting. Suspect lots of thinking going on behind the scenes - big test now is whether something between UK & EU position can be found - and in time.
Read 2 tweets
22 Aug 19
.@EmmanuelMacron and @BorisJohnson holding a press conference:
1. Withdrawal agreement: Macron says deal on the table is the outcome of compromise where both sides gave in. Open to further talks but UK must put fwd workable alternatives.
2. Future cooperation: both stress that Franco-British relations are about more than Brexit. Must continue to work on Mali, Syria, Russia, education and to combat global diseases - irrespective of Brexit outcome.
Read 10 tweets
12 Aug 19
.@guardian reporting that British diplomats based in Brussels will pull out from EU meetings within days. While this sends a strong political message to EU (UK will leave on 31 Oct), it cd be damaging for UK influence longer-term (short-thread):
theguardian.com/politics/2019/…
1. Part of EU conversations: As a member state, UK is part of EU discussions: it knows what policies are on the agenda, how different EU countries feel about them (divides!) and who (in Commission, Parliament and the Council) is working on them. UK also has a say and vote..
2. Lot harder from the outside: once you are a third country, you are no longer at the heart of EU circuit. No MEPs in EU Parliament and no diplomats in Council working groups (some exceptions, for e.g. Switzerland and Norway participate in Schengen working group).
Read 10 tweets
6 Aug 19
Michael Gove says that EU is 'refusing to negotiate'. But there is more nuance to EU's approach (short thread):
bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politi…
1. Talks: EU have said they are open to talks but have so far ruled out renegotiation. Why? (i)WA is outcome of compromise where both sides gave in; (ii)believe solution to backstop lies in trade discussions, not in reopening WA; (iii)don't think alternatives can be found in time
2. Substantive change: potentially but only if UK gov comes up with credible, workable alternatives. Reports of last week's meeting between UK's new EU Sherpa (Frost) and top EU Commission officials suggest no alternatives were put fwd. EU unlikely to negotiate until that changes
Read 7 tweets
26 Jul 19
.@BorisJohnson says he wants a new deal - but that if negotiations with EU fail, UK will leave with no deal. What are EU27 thinking? New blog for @instituteforgov (and short thread):
1. Odds of no deal have risen: but threat won't change EU27 minds. No deal always been on table & EU27 feel relatively prepared (though more problematic for Ireland).
2. Trust: EU27 leaders open to further talks, but waiting to see (i) what new options UK gov puts on table and (ii) whether new PM is as "hardline" behind closed doors as he is in front of the camera. EU27 think there may be more nuance to PM's comments than ppl think.
Read 6 tweets
5 Jul 19
What do the new EU's top jobs mean for #Brexit? Won't change anything now but could prove useful later. Thread:
1. Brexit was not a key consideration: Brexit important, but not a priority. Plus, May was in the room when candidates were being selected. Candidates only take up their positions after 31 October (when current Brexit deadline expires).
2. Renegotiation: only possible if EU countries agree (tricky). If talks do take place, it would be between new PM and current Commission/Council (Juncker, Tusk and Barnier).
Read 5 tweets
12 Jun 19
.@BorisJohnson launches his campaign today to become leader of the Conservative Party. He suggests that even if UK left with no deal, new negotiations with EU27 wd happen in an amicable way. Perhaps, but there will be hurdles along the way. Thread:
1. New mandate: EU27 wd need to give the EU Commission a new mandate, which will be the subject of complex internal talks. EU27 cd demand rigid sequencing (no talking abt trade until money, citizens and possibly Irish border have been resolved). Cd include other issues, like fish
2. New legal basis: art 218 TFEU (and *not* article 50 TEU) wd apply. This means different voting rules. Unlike the withdrawal agreement, *all* EU govs will need to approve the new deal as well MEPs. National and regional parliaments might need to vote too.
Read 5 tweets
23 May 19
Many assume US and EU think differently about #Brexit. But after almost 3 years, there are some things they hold in common:
1. Surprised, worried, exasperated and now switching off: of course, EU27 always more interested in Brexit than US. (US not intervened). But political chaos in London has led both sides to check out: "we will engage properly on Brexit once London has made a decision"
2. Neither side knows what the UK wants: receiving mixed messages (strong alignment with EU, but also strong trade agreement with US). Want a deal, but also open to leaving with no deal. Both bemoan lack of clear UK narrative about the future.
Read 8 tweets