It is not a polite word the one we use, “mess”, but it is the one that best explains, in all its nuances, the state of negotiation for the separation between the European Union and Great Britain.
This morning (on February the 9th), for the umpteenth time, the chief negotiator of the EU Michel Barnier, respecting his commitment to transparency, met the journalists to explain the state of the negotiations, and from what we understand it has not even taken a step forward .
Barnier is an expert person, a long-winded speaker, and for months he has been telling just how much there is nothing about which an agreement has been reached. A few months ago we had moved on to “phase two” of the negotiations, because, the European Council stated, “sufficient progress” had been made in the first phase on the three fundamental points: citizens’ rights, financial agreement and the Irish border. It was known that it was a pitiful lie, called to help the shaky British government (you could not lose the interlocutor given the narrowness of the times), to avoid a speculative wave on the markets, to say that, all in all, you went come on.
Today Barnier told us that in these days they are discussing: “avoiding a ‘hard border’ between Northern Ireland and Eire”, and that on the rights of citizens “Britain has substantial objections” to the EU proposal. There has been no mention of the financial side once London has in fact recognized that it will have to settle some open accounts, even if nobody knows the figures. So, what happened in these months? Apart from a large production of papers nothing. We face different problems: there are no rules and procedures for a separation from the Union and even the negotiators (which don’t seem to be any helpfull one side to the other) are not able to achieve any results. Perhaps this second thing depends on the first, perhaps Barnier is really doing the maximum possible, which then resolves itself into an almost absolute nothingness. In London the ideas are very confusing, there is no understanding in the government on how to conduct the negotiations and on what results they tend to achieve, even less in Parliament.
In short, there is no agreement on anything, and now almost the arms of Barnier’s appeal to “do not waste time because we do not have any”, when at every press conference he can only cut a few weeks from the time available until the next October, the date deemed final to have a complete agreement, which also includes the transitional phase, to be submitted to the European Parliament and also to the British so as to be able to do everything “in an orderly manner” by the date of separation, March 29, 2019.
To date, however, time has been lost, or, at best, it has been discovered that the current negotiators, for their own limitations, or for regulatory and procedural shortcomings, or for lack of political agreements, have not achieved any results and continue to turn around the issues, each with its own side slogans.
It will therefore be a “mess”. Looking at things as they are today on March 29, 2019 there will be no agreement, and only by living will we find out what relationships will be possible between the European Union and the United Kingdom. No one, until today, has done a good job, and even putting himself under the best will already from tomorrow is not even serious to say that it will be possible to regulate completely, in an “ordered” this complex separation.