Peter Foster Profile picture
Jul 6, 2018 9 tweets 3 min read Twitter logo Read on Twitter
So @MichelBarnier
may have appeared to pull his punches today, but don't be fooled. He stuck firmly to EU guns.

This is a key word "de-dramatise" and you'll hear it a lot more - and it is not good news for Mrs May. Here's why /1
If EU sticks to guns on cherry-picking, then that leaves UK with basic FTA...and that means an Irish sea goods border.

When Barnier says "de-dramatise" he means May and Davis need to give over on their contention that such a border is a threat to UK constitutional integrity /2
So when Barnier uses this word, it's code for "the only compromise we need here is by the UK" on the question of the east-west border that would be thrown up by hiving of Northern Ireland into separate regulatory orbit. Something May has said is "unacceptable". /3
So when he talks about Mrs May's max fac solutions being useful, he means to "de-dramatise" checks on that border, which already exists to some degree because the island of Ireland is a single phytosanitary unit, so animals get checked at Larne etc. Also timber, fertiliser. /4
Barnier is saying EU can help minimise the additional east-west checks by doing them away from the border, at factories and warehouses etc to minimise the impact of the new border controls that would be necessary to protect single market from UK divergence /5
And as you'll recall, there are a lot of checks, even if UK signs up to a customs union with the EU. /6
This is a massive gulf in thinking between EU and UK which is adamant an Irish Sea border for goods risks unraveling the United Kingdom - leave alone what such a move would do to the politics of the wider Union in Scotland. /7
That gulf is worrying. Because all the ideas being discussed at #Chequers (and let's leave aside the loony Customs Partnership stuff) require the UK to win the broader argument on cherry picking - if not for goods in the single market then at least for free movement/services /8
So as they talk at #Chequers Barnier, without shouting about, lays down a marker. The EU is not for turning...of course we'll see about that - in time - if UK offers enough to turn member state heads at the death. ENDS

PS..more of all that here

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More from @pmdfoster

Oct 4, 2018
So what did @eucopresident say to @campaignforleo at their meeting today?

Yesterday @simoncoveney was talking "flexibility". /1
@eucopresident @campaignforleo @simoncoveney Then this morning, the FT reported that Ireland was prepared to back British proposal for all-UK customs arrangement on the backstop /2
@eucopresident @campaignforleo @simoncoveney This wasn't surprising. Always been Dublin ambition, but clearly they need to balance need to preserve UK-IE trade, with being good EU27 citizens and defending integrity of single market.

The Irish FT briefing was seen as a sign of helpfulness on UK side.

Then today...

Read 7 tweets
Oct 4, 2018
Interesting case this.... Poland puts activist on SIS II watchlist that banned her from Schengen Zone.

Germany issued visa nonetheless, so she could attend conference attacking Polish government

Poland unhappy. More here 1/…
Now it seems like the British government also issued her a visa.

The fitness of the Polish judicial system is already under review relating to the European Arrest Warrant.

Now it seems like Germany and UK are not showing solidarity with Poland on Schengen Information System./2
The activist says she's in trouble because of a Facebook post her husband made calling for peaceful civil disobedience against Poland judicial reforms.

Poland justified the ban saying her NGO has "opaque" funding. /3…
Read 5 tweets
Oct 2, 2018
What's happening in #Brexit...lots of noise about on the post Salzburg plan... here's what I know, with inputs from both sides.

So let's start with the post-Salzburg plan. Multiple versions about - I've written on Chequers 2.0, as has @SamuelMarcLowe and @JohnSpringford of @CER_EU whose paper is here:… /2
@SamuelMarcLowe @JohnSpringford @CER_EU The shorter version is this:

1) All-UK for customs on NI backstop, but accept SM checks unique to NI, with some de-dramatised checks (for regs) on NI-GB border.

2) To move to park the NI customs backstop stand-off by agreeing a "Temporary Customs Arrangement" /3
Read 20 tweets
Oct 1, 2018
Very quick thread on why Hunt's frustration with EU is understandable, but ultimately counter-productive /1…
Let's be clear, there has been some silly stuff from both sides - @EmmanuelMacron should know better that talking about "liars" and @eucopresident trolling May on Instagram is also pretty daft. /2
@EmmanuelMacron @eucopresident But divorces get like this: both sides know the mud-slinging it is counter-productive, "bad for the kids" but still can't help themselves.

Jeremy Hunt's speech was pretty much student union level stuff, as has been pointed out. /3
Read 9 tweets
Sep 28, 2018
So @BorisJohnson has put out his "plan" for #Brexit.

Predictably, it has had holes picked in it - since there are indeed plenty of mighty assumptions in the 'plan'.

But I fear that misses the point. This is a political document, not a technical one. 1/…
@BorisJohnson And when you read it in that light, it becomes rather more persuasive.

Brexit is indeed a muddle and a mess. The British frog is indeed being boiled. Brexit probably always was/is more binary than both sides have properly allowed. /2
@BorisJohnson I am not at all sure Boris is right that Whitehall and the EU conspired to keep the UK in a customs union, for example, but that will be a powerful anti-narrative if that's where we end up.

FWIW my conversations in Europe suggest rather different. /3
Read 6 tweets
Sep 23, 2018
These divisions were always over-reported and over-spun by No-10. Yes, some say different but in 27 context (viz Orban last week) they don’t. And drill down with their dips on how far they really support splitting freedoms? Not so much. I’ve tried. Doesn’t stack up IMO.
Then May/No10 over reads what she gets told in bilaterals (where she is wooden and hopeless) and takes what one EU dip from big EU state said to me were “mere generalities, pleasantries” about “wanting a deal” for a willingness to cross major red lines. Salzburg says not.
May’s problem is that she’s asking for special treatment in the Trump-Orban-Salvini era and Macron’s people says he sees Brexit in that sweep. As does Commission and Berlin (though less aggressively) which makes U.K. pitch v hard.
Read 5 tweets

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