An idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing
Why this should be is not difficult to grasp: the UK has, via the less than competent “diplomacy” of “Lord” David Frost, decided that the Protocol, which was a UK invention, and to which it signed up of its own free will, is now A Very Bad Thing and must be either substantially changed, or done away with altogether. Frost has “challenged” the EU to come up with alternative arrangements. Probably because he thinks they won’t.
Unfortunately for Frost and his boss, Maroš Šefčovič has done just that, and Mutjaba Rahman of the Eurasia Group has the detail. “The EU's proposals for addressing the problems in NI are substantive & far reaching. They will effectively do away with all paperwork for goods destined for NI - instead of a border in Irish Sea, think of a ‘green’ (NI-bound) & ‘red’ (Single Market) lane”. But then comes the inevitable however.
“Unsurprisingly, EU will offer no concessions on ECJ. For this reason alone, senior EU officials are resigned to fairly hostile response from [David Frost]”. But Rahman warns “It has taken a lot of time & leadership from [Maroš Šefčovič] & [Ursula von der Leyen] to get Commission services & member states into line. Although EU capitals haven't seen the final package & all the details, they've been socialised with what's coming”.
So EU member states from Finland to Romania to Italy to Portugal have been sounded out and have lined up behind the offer. But almost as soon as the detail became known, someone not unadjacent to “Lord” Frost briefed the increasingly desperate and downmarket Telegraph that there was, surprise, surprise, an imminent scrap over the ECJ.
As Darran Marshall of the BBC has noted, “[David Frost] to make clear to [Maroš Šefčovič] that removing the European Court of Justice’s oversight of the NI protocol is a ‘red line’ for the British Government”. The EU side offers an olive branch, and Bozo’s negotiator immediately finds a way to refuse it, to the clear exasperation of those in Ireland.
Ireland’s Foreign Minister Simon Coveney has reflected that exasperation. “EU working seriously to resolve practical issues with implementation of Protocol - so UKG creates a new ‘red line’ barrier to progress, that they know EU can’t move on…. are we surprised? Real Q: Does UKG actually want an agreed way forward or a further breakdown in relations?”. Frost needs to answer that. Because the EU side already went there.
You have to ask yourself one question Dave ... do I feel lucky?
As Mutjaba Rahman has pointed out, “If UK's actions call [Ireland’s place in the Single Market] into question, the EU's response could be much more forceful … Not a silly micro line-by-line tariff retaliation, but the *suspension of the entire zero tariff/zero quota deal*. There's a termination clause in TCA that can be triggered unilaterally: many in [Brussels] think a big simple move like this would be needed for UK to finally understand”.
That’s the Trade and Cooperation Agreement, that the UK also signed of its own free will. Suspending that really would damage the UK economy. Frost thinks he’ll get the EU to back down. Once again he is wrong. And once again it’s ordinary folk who will suffer.
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