Monday, June 27, 2016

Negotiating over negotiating Brexit

Anything can happen with Brexit. But it sounds unlikely to me that it's going to be a smooth process.

European Parliament President Martin Schulz is from the German SPD. But he's a shameless Angiebot, not that this makes him any different than most other SPD leaders, a related but different story. He demanded that Britain make their Article 50 application by this Tuesday! Probably not going to happen. In theory, the SPD (Angie's junior coalition partner) is pressing for a rapid British exit while Angie and her CDU/CSU are being more cautious.

But there's no way Schulz made that kind of statement without Merkel's approval. If Merkel is going to preserve her current EU, she has to punish the defiant, like she punished Greece. I'm convinced that Merkel sees the EU as a neoliberal version of the Warsaw Pact; that's a big reason I call her East Germany's Last Revenge on the West. Since Britain is not a part of the euro, she has more flexibility to make concessions to Britain and did make some prior to the Brexit vote. But punishment and intimidation is how she rolls in these things, with the full support of the SPD.

I'm very sure Angie doesn't give a flying flip that a majority of British voters elected to leave. At his first meeting with Yanis Varoufakis as Finance Minister of Greece when the Syriza government took power in 2015 with a clear electoral mandate to end the Herbert Hoover austerity programs, Angie's Finance Minister and fellow CDU leader Wolfgang Schäuble told Varoufakis, “Elections cannot be allowed to change an economic programme of a member state!” (Why we must save the EU Guardian 04/05/2016)

Angie's close ally and Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen is saying, "No one will have to chance to play for time. The economy will demand quick clarity. Investors will hold back until they know what's going on now: in or out." ("Es wird niemand die Chance haben, auf Zeit zu spielen. Die Wirtschaft wird schnelle Klarheit einfordern. Investoren werden sich zurückhalten, bis sie wissen, was jetzt gilt: drinnen oder draußen."; Schulz fordert Austrittsantrag der Briten bis Dienstag Spiegel Online 25.06.2016)

The negotiating over negotiating is already well underway (Jon Henley et al, European leaders rule out informal Brexit talks before article 50 is triggered Guardian 06/27/2016):

On the eve of a crunch summit in Brussels, the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, said she, president François Hollande of France and Italy’s prime minister, Matteo Renzi, had agreed at their meeting in Berlin that “there will be no formal or informal talks about Britain’s exit” until the UK has triggered article 50, the untested procedure that governs a member state leaving.

Hollande urged Britain to “not waste time” in launching the leaving process. “Being responsible means not wasting time in engaging with the question of Britain’s departure and setting this new impulse we want to lend the new European Union,” he said, adding that “nothing is worse than uncertainty – and Britain has already had painful experience of this”.
France and Italy, not surprisingly, are on board with Merkel's approach. The German SPD, which still passes for a center-left party and serves as Merkel's junior coalition partner, is playing its part by publicly insisting on a hard line with Britain:

The president of the European parliament, Martin Schulz, warned this weekend that a period of limbo would “lead to even more insecurity” and said the Brussels summit was the right time to begin formal exit proceedings.

There was pressure, too, from within Merkel’s own government: the head of her Social Democrat coalition partners, Sigmar Gabriel, called for “decisive action instead of indecision”.

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