Monday, 15 January 2018

Still left to guess

According to The Guardian, "Theresa May has been hit with a double Brexit blow as the EU toughened up its terms for a transition period and Norway privately warned Brussels that giving in to the UK’s demands for a “special” trade deal could force it to rip up its own agreements with the bloc".
"...the Guardian has learned that repeated representations have been made to EU officials by Oslo over their fears that an overly generous offer to the UK will fuel calls in Norway to renegotiate its ties with the bloc, according to senior diplomatic sources. The Nordic intervention presents a fresh hurdle for Theresa May’s aim of delivering a “deep and special partnership” with the EU that goes beyond the scope of a Canada-style free trade deal, an arrangement under which significant barriers to trade in goods and services remains."
Course, this isn't news. If the UK is granted anything close to the level of market particpation Norway presently enjoys with fewer obligations then Norway will seek more favourable terms. This is precisely why we're not getting anything approaching EEA levels of market particpation without remaining in the EEA. It was never on the cards. This comes as no surprise. 

In other news we are told that Member States are pushing for a more comprehensive deal than Canada but issue illiteracy is not unique to our own government and there will be a similar lack of appreciation for the EU's political position - and the legal constraints it must operate within. In respect of that, Norway's shot across the bow is entirely redundant save to put on record that which could safely assume. 

Again it seems to point to the obvious that if the political agreement on the Northern Irish border is to be respected then it will have to use the EEA as a basis for free movement of goods. If not, then the UK will suffer a penalty in terms of services access in exchange for those same levels of frictionless trade. There is no free lunch to be had here. 

As to whether this reality sinks in at Number Ten remains to be seen. In all likelihood, Mrs May will continue the pretense of "steady as she goes" with no outward sign of coming to terms with the issues. Calls for pragmatism and honesty will fall on deaf ears and any decisions will be kicked down the road at every opportunity. 

Meanwhile, tucked in at the bottom of the Guardian report, is the "news" that Member states have ruled out allowing British carriers the freedom to fly passengers and luggage between destinations on the continent post-Brexit, with UK carriers to be permitted only four of the nine “freedoms” to operate they currently enjoy. 

Precisely why that wasn't the headline item (assuming this is something new) is known only to the Guardian, but this is very much a consequence of quitting the EEA. That could very well be one of the issues that forces a rethink. It is on these such issues key battles will be fought. We shall have to wait and see. 

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