Tuesday, 25 February 2020

The remarkable patience of the EU

Years ago, I found myself working on an IT outsourcing contract with a major client, where the client managers seemed to spend all their time looking for loopholes in the contract to avoid their own obligations whilst making ever more strident demands that we must stick not just to the letter but to the spirit of our side of the contract.  When I bumped into the guy on our side who’d led the contract negotiations and the drawing up of the deal, I asked him why he’d ever signed up to the contract without pinning everything down in detail.  “We assumed”, he said, “that we were dealing with honourable people”.
The EU27 have no such excuse.  They knew – as did everyone else by the time the Withdrawal Agreement was completed – that honourable was not a word which anyone could seriously apply to the current Prime Minister of the UK.  Having signed up to an agreement which specifically referenced the need for ‘level playing field’ provisions, he is now refusing to agree to any and demanding that the EU back down; and having signed up to customs checks between the UK mainland and the north of Ireland, he’s instructed his people to find ways of evading them.  The EU might have thought that they had clear agreement on both issues, but the PM’s belief that he should not be bound by any normal rules or conventions is hardly a new discovery.
My only wonder is that the EU27 are showing so much patience in continuing to negotiate with someone who clearly has no intention of being bound by any outcome which in any way constrains him.


CapM said...

I think the EU's - Commission, Council and Parliament have from the beginning been at pains to be and appear to be patient, reasoned and reasonable in their response to Brexit in part not to give any excuse or fuel to other Eurosceptic factions within it's membership.
This, over the next few months will doubtless be coupled with a strong commitment and determination to ensure that the interests of the EU membership are paramount.
The approach could likely result in EU citizens being more positive about being citizens of the EU and enhance the EU's reputation globally.

Where as the UK's approach ....

dafis said...

We are heading for a period of chaos in UK and the UK's relations with EU and most of the rest of the world. UK will learn that while some of the rest of the world may have a degree of sympathy with the motives for leaving the EU, that is sympathy alone and mot any form of commitment to indulge the UK with all the favourable mollycoddling to which many of our current regime seem to think they are entitled. Boris will persist with childish attempts at "pulling a fast one" but each time he will be battered back and by end of 2020 early 21 will be seen by his own party as a dud. That's when the big schism will begin, but an inherently divided Labour Party will be ill equipped to take advantage and may have to confront its own urges to tear apart. Plaid has not got the guts to deal assertively with the opportunity that will present itself. SNP will be able to push its agenda, and I suspect the Irish question will take more steps towards its resolution. Anglo Brit nationalism will be the "bomb" that blows the UK apart.

Anonymous said...

Boris is batting for Britain ... or, most particularly, England.

You may not like this as a 'Welshman' so keen to display cultural difference at every opportunity, but you will lap up the money England hands over (or if this isn't enough you will try to lap up funds from the EU).

The 'Welshmen' in Wales have no shame! If you did, you'd refuse all handouts from other nations and make do with what you could raise in Wales (albeit most of it coming from the weathy non-Welsh).

Time we got real!

John Dixon said...


I expect that you will be disappointed to hear that this blog does not offer prizes for the silliest or wrongest comment submitted. But if it did, you'd certainly be in the running.

"Boris is batting for Britain ... or, most particularly, England." Wrong. The only thing Boris ever battles for is Boris. If a small proportion of the wealthiest English citizens happen to benefit, that's an accidental bonus.

"You [...] as a 'Welshman' so keen to display cultural difference at every opportunity" Wrong. You seem to have an idea of what all independentistas think, and to believe that by refuting your own perception you are somehow undermining the case. Try listening a bit more to what people actually say rather than what you think they ought to be saying to match your own prejudices and preconceptions.

"...you will lap up the money England hands over" Wrong. England does not 'hand over' money to Wales - apart from anything else, there is no 'England' political institution to even make such a decision. The UK Government collects taxes across the UK and spends them across the UK. To the extent that there is a redistributive element to this, the principal beneficiaries of UK economic policy are London and the South East.

"... or if this isn't enough you will try to lap up funds from the EU" Wrong. Unlike the UK, the EU actually does have a policy aimed at spreading economic growth more evenly across its territory. To do that, the member states have agreed to contribute towards a central pot based on ability to pay and to use that fund to promote greater economic equality. There is no 'EU money' at all (one of the few things with which I agree with Farage etc); there is only money from EU states which those states have consciously and voluntarily agreed to pay into a fund to promote greater economic equality. As a result of UK economic policy, large parts of Wales find themselves qualifying. Not exactly much of a recommendation.

"The 'Welshmen' in Wales have no shame!" Wrong. Many of us are deeply ashamed that we have allowed our country to be run in a way which has left us in our current state. And we're even more ashamed of people - like yourself - who seem to think that this is the natural order of things and are unable or unwilling to conceive of a better future.

"If you did, you'd refuse all handouts from other nations and make do with what you could raise in Wales" Wrong. There are no 'handouts' from other nations, and Wales is about the thirtieth most wealthy country in the world. The problem is that we don't - yet - have the tools or the determination to set our own future.

"...albeit most of it coming from the wealthy non-Welsh." Wrong. You really don't have a clue about any of this, do you?

Spirit of BME said...

Mrs May-Day`s agreement had very clear acceptance of a level playing field, but the opposition parties refused to make it law and The Boy Johnson ripped it up and got the Brussels machine to agree to changes -something they said they would not do. In the new agreement, if the EU were serious about this issue, they would have insisted that the UK would not leave unless this was incorporated in the body of the agreement and clearly defined as a red- line, but it was not and the 27 ratified the Boy`s agreement.
There is of course Political Declaration attached to it, full of fine words, which is non-binding and therefore, as in all such contracts this section is not worth the paper it is written on.
I have come out of meetings with a signed agreement, where I find both sides have taken loose wording and have made totally different assumptions.
On Anon 17.05 input – by the way -good answers on your part, but what struck me was, if you changed “Welshmen” to Trinidadians and “Wales” to Trinidad, the media in Wales would get the vapours, as this would be (under a rather crazy new law) a Hate-crime and there would be a knock on their door by the guardians of the Laws of England. I suspect, if the current words were reported to the powers that be, you might find that this law is not intended to apply to the Welsh.