Almost two months ago, the European Union’s negotiators published their proposals as a draft treaty. It was at once rejected by the British negotiators – as well it might, as it was in flagrant breach of the terms agreed in the Political Declaration.
The standard European negotiating strategy is as it always was: if you want a cow, you demand the herd and negotiate down from there. They have for many years been puzzled that the British approach hitherto has been to hand the herd over without demur. Now that is not happening, which must be an even greater puzzlement to them.
The Europeans’ proposals extend over 440 pages: 316 plus appendices. Some of it is standard and as expected, and may be mirrored in the British proposals: these include free trade with no tariffs, protection of intellectual property and so forth, all of which are within the Political Declaration. Others cover areas within the Political Declaration such as state aid, public procurement and control of monopolies but take the wrong approach and are frequently one-sided, giving the European Union a remedy in case the United Kingdom breaches its side but no remedy against the European Union when it contravenes its obligations.
The main problem issue is the field of “Level Playing Field and Sustainability”: sections which render the whole proposal impossible.
The proposal is no more than a proposal, though described as a “draft agreement”. Had it been close to acceptable, it could have been reviewed as close-to-agreement work in progress, but it is not, as Number 10’s team have made clear. However, it is a document of interest in the current negotiations, and it has not been withdrawn, and so it is worth a read and an analysis.
The British proposals when fully published would be worth analysis also.
The proposals are long and involved and so a separate commentary is needed, which we are compiling on this site, and will expand over the following days:
- The Withdrawal Agreement: a commentary
- The Political Declaration: a commentary
- The Withdrawal Agreement Act: a commentary
- The Borisaurus: The Dictionary of Boris Johnson by Simon Walters
- Beyond Brexit by Vernon Bogdanor
- Brexit: Its Necessity and Challenge by Tony Kosuge
- Rising Tides: Facing the Challenges of a New Era by Liam Fox
On the Brexit campaign and the referendum:
- For the Recordby David Cameron
- All Out War: The Full Story of How Brexit Sank Britain’s Political Class by Tim Shipman
- Brexit: Why Britain Voted to Leave the European Union by Harold D. Clarke, Matthew Goodwin and Paul Whiteley
- Brexit: How the Nobodies Beat the Somebodies by Sebastian J. Handley
- Brexit and Ireland: The Dangers, the Opportunities, and the Inside Story of the Irish Response by Tom Connelly
- From Partition to Brexit: The Irish Government and Northern Ireland by Donnacha O Beachain
- By Boris Johnson: