In the Brexit negotiations, the climax comes at the end. It is a production with distributed roles.
How often has you heard it: “Time is of the essence” is always emphasized when a new round of Brexit negotiations begins. But it is already clear that there will be no “breakthrough” this week either.
The Brexit negotiations follow the classic rules of diplomacy: the climax comes at the end. It would be detrimental for all sides to come to an agreement now – although the final Brexit is due at the end of the year. Voters would believe that their governments did not fight hard enough. There must be drama. Negotiations are expected to run until just before New Year’s Eve, garnished with night sessions, and the EU Parliament will be torn from the Christmas break to ratify the treaty at the last minute.
The content fronts have been fixed for months. It is about three issues: fishing rights, “fair competition” and how disputes are resolved. An agreement is likely on the last subject, as various arbitration procedures could be envisaged.
The crux of the matter is fair competition: The EU must prevent Great Britain from gaining export advantages by fraudulent practice by tax dumping or subsidizing companies. The British have to obey the rules – what Brexit fans don’t see is their motto “Take Back Control”.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson can therefore only accommodate the EU if he has a triumph to show. So the EU pumps up the issue of fishing rights – although almost no one lives from fishing. Johnson is said to be able to claim that he personally saved the British fishing fleet.
The fact that French President Macron pretends to be the chairman of the Normandy fishermen’s association and is completely uncompromising goes well with this EU staging. The brighter the “victory” of the British will shine. For Macron and his fishermen, a few EU billions are likely to fall off to sweeten their “defeat”. Nice too.
But who knows. The future is fundamentally uncertain, as a famous Brit named Keynes once stated.