The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung’s devastating description of the Brexit dinner is really worth reading (click on the photo for a larger version).
It really worries me that Theresa May seems to be saying the same to EU officials that she’s saying in public. I had been hoping she’d be a bit more clued up behind closed doors, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. She seems genuinely to believe that the EU will allow the UK to have its cake and eat it.
What will happen when she realises that the EU won’t give in? Will she walk out and slam the door? The fact that the EU’s negotiators are starting to think that this is more likely than not is not good. Especially because Juncker was very clear that the EU will not want to agree to a free trade deal if the UK has just walked out without paying a single penny.
Scotland needs to have a really good plan for what we do if that happens. If there is a deal between the EU and the UK, there probably will be a transitional period lasting three years (so until 2022), and that would be a convenient time frame for Scotland to transition to independence within the EU after a referendum in late 2018 or early 2019. However, if the UK crashes out without a deal, there won’t be any transitional deals, and it will become much more urgent to escape the UK and get back into the EU before the Scottish economy gets completely ruined.
A different problem mentioned in the article is what will happen to EU citizens in the UK (assuming that there will be a deal after all). It mentions that May doesn’t think it’ll be complex – the UK will simply treat EU citizens as other foreigners (presumably with Indefinite Leave to Remain).
The reason the EU negotiators weren’t happy with this is because they want to preserve the principle of equal treatment. Here’s what the European Commission’s negotiating paper said on this topic:
The Agreement should safeguard the status and rights derived from Union law at the withdrawal date, including those the enjoyment of which will intervene at a later date (e.g. rights related to old age pensions) both for EU27 citizens residing (or having resided) and/or working (or having worked) in the United Kingdom and for United Kingdom citizens residing (or having resided) and/or working (or having worked) in one of the Member States of the EU27. Guarantees to that effect in the Agreement should be reciprocal, and should be based on the principle of equal treatment amongst EU27 citizens and equal treatment of EU27 citizens as compared to United Kingdom citizens, as set out in the relevant Union acquis. Those rights should be protected as directly enforceable vested rights for the life time of those concerned.
In other words, the EU wants the UK to treat EU citizens who have at some point been resident here the same as British citizens. As an EU citizen myself, I obviously hope the EU will win this fight.
I fear, however, that this will be just another issue that the negotiators will find it hard to reach an agreement on, which again increases the risk that the UK will leave the EU without any deal at all on 29 March 2019.