The European Union must maximize its unity, firmness and negotiating ability in the last stages of its negotiation with the United Kingdom for a possible – and uncertain – trade agreement for the future after its formal and executive withdrawal from the community club, since the beginning of the year. next.
Unity has been forged since the pulse began in 2016 with the secessionist referendum: there have been neither leaks nor notable discrepancies in a club prone to them. Firmness has been demonstrated, but now it will be even more necessary, since the eve of an eventual break – always economically damaging – causes the most flexible part of the legs to shake. And the ability is essential before an interlocutor who does not hesitate to use false data, accuses without foundation and fails to comply with the agreements already signed (such as the Withdrawal Agreement), before a year is consumed since they were locked.
To the European Council’s demand for Boris Johnson to make a gesture that proves true will to reach a pact, he has responded with signs to the contrary: a call to his country to prepare for a scenario of rupture without an agreement. But that position essentially fulfills an internal partisan political function before its citizens.
In effect, the British Prime Minister had set an ultimatum for October 15: either the EU would change the “tone” of its discussion, or it would definitely break. Johnson believes that the EU has not changed, and his negotiator, David Frost, exemplified this by showing his “disappointment” with the firmness of the Twenty-seven. But by no means have they left the negotiating table. This is still standing, we’ll see how long. For the second time (the previous one was in autumn 2019), his penchant for dictating ultimatums has produced no consequences.
However, this indisputable fact does not allow us to have strong hopes of a real negotiating disposition either. It may be due to the desire to endure to the abyss line so that the Union is the one that rises from the table, and thus be able to blame it for it.
Or the stage fright of a seemingly blunt leader, but who is going through a difficult phase: despised by his conservative predecessors John Major, David Cameron and Theresa May and the party moderates; abandoned by its new constituents from declining industrial zones; and, above all, pending that his only ally in the world, Donald Trump, manages to defeat the polls that give him as a loser.
Be one or the other the reason, the Twenty-seven must remain, as before, firm. The failure of the negotiation would have serious economic consequences that it is in everyone’s interest to avoid, especially in the midst of the pandemic crisis. But it cannot be at the cost of giving up even an inch in terms of defending the hard core of its historic endeavor: the internal market, which in no way can be challenged from the other side of the channel by unfair competition, distorting state aid. or dumpings social or environmental. A Singapore threatening the mainland economy from the corner, taking advantage of duty-free access to the common market, is not tolerable. Another thing is that they agree to agree on sectoral concessions or on the management of the future agreement, provided they are mutual. And beneficial, as a whole, for the Union.