29 outubro, 2016

Brexit Posturing


 Whilst we wait for the real (or the formal) Brexit negotiations to begin, we can watch some chest thumping, listen to some threatening declarations, tempered by some more contemporising ones and complemented by some warning shots.

The road to Brexit.
in “THE ECONOMIST” at www.economist.com

This issue popped as a theme for a post after some wild statements by Robert Fico, Slovakia’s Prime Minister. Probably infatuated for holding the (increasingly irrelevant) EU’s 6-month presidency, Mr. Fico threatened that the Visegrad countries (Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia) could veto the Brexit deal over immigration issues: “No room for compromise”, he crowed from the top of his smallness. Earlier, he had told the “Financial Times” that the EU is going to make the Brexit very painful as a lesson for the United Kingdom and as a warning to other prospective leavers.

I really do not know who Mr. Fico thinks he is, but he is clearly over his head and seemingly unaware of Slovakia’s political weight, or lack thereof, within the European Union. On one side of the table is the 5th largest economy in the world and on the other side there will be a Frenchman representing the EU, seconded by a German. So, as expected, it will be up to Europe’s three heavyweights to hammer out the major contours of the Brexit deal. Of course, the other 25 nations will also play a role, especially the likes of Italy, The Netherlands, Poland, Spain, or Sweden (no, Slovakia will not be on this short list) and others will try to promote specific agendas of their own, but the key lies in London, Berlin and Paris.

Meanwhile, this October, the British started conveying their own messages, also aiming at conditioning the negotiations. Of these, I found most striking the enunciation of London’s supposed four red lines. Accordingly, the UK wants to:

            * Stop making contributions to the EU budget.

            * Regain full legislative sovereignty to Westminster.

            * Break free from the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice.

            * Have an independent immigration policy.

This is not an official stand, so it should be viewed as part posturing and not necessarily how things will play out, but it nevertheless sheds some light on London’s probable stance on some of Brexit’s major issues.

Finally, going back to where we started, the biggest irony of all is watching Mr. Fico, a staunch opponent of immigration to Slovakia, emerging as the leading crusader of Slovakian emigration to the UK! Poor, incoherent Mr. Fico.

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