March 27, 2017

Is Michel Barnier really sure about what mandate the people in remaining EU have given him to negotiate Brexit?

Sir, Michel Barnier writes “Severe disruption to air transport and long queues at the Channel port of Dover are just some of the many examples of the negative consequences of failing to reach a deal.” “Brussels will be transparent in Brexit negotiations” March 26.

Really? Are those really necessary consequences? Do Michel Barnier’s words really reflect what the citizens of the remaining EU feel about Brexit? Has he really been sufficiently authorized to negotiate? At what moment can the rest intervene if they don’t like where it’s all heading? 

I ask because, as I have opined before, the truth is that EU has much more to lose from Brexit than Britain. Britain signified the most important glue to hold together such a diverse bunch of individualities of countries. In fact, without naming them, I know there are EU countries that harbor much more sympathies towards Britain than towards most of their associates. 

Some years ago, I believe 2011, at the Brooking Institute in Washington, I heard the then EU’ Internal Market Commissioner Barnier quite aggressively lecture the US to do its part since WE "EU regulators will not accept a global regulatory race to the bottom"… When Barnier also made the point in his speech, also included in his handed out cv, that he was quite proficient in English, I clearly remember having thought (unfairly perhaps)… this guy has some sort of ego problem.

Of course, I could be totally wrong, I don’t know Mr Barnier, he could in fact be equanimity and friendliness impersonated. But, since in my TeaWithFT blog I also found having commented on an article by Alex Barker titled “Barnier vs the Brits”, November 9, I hope for the good of all parties, that the negotiations of Brexit does not take place in a coliseum with some gladiators just wanting to show off how strong they are.

PS. It was at that same Brooking conference that I was presented with a brochure in which the European Commission claimed as a great success that: “A French citizen complained about discriminatory entry fees for tourists to Romanian monasteries. The ticket price for non-Romanians was twice as high as that for Romanian citizens. As this policy was contrary to EU principles, the Romanian SOLVIT centre persuaded the church authorities to establish non-discriminatory entry fees for the monasteries. Solved within 9 weeks.”

Though I proudly carry a Polish passport, I have not really lived within the EU… and so I did not know what to think of it all. Is this what EU is about? If so, then Brexit would seem more reasonable.