Saturday 29 April
EU leaders were dragged from across Europe on Saturday to confirm the EU’s Brexit negotiating guidelines first published on 31 March, shortly after the Prime Minister’s Article 50 notice.
…And yes, the Gibraltar veto is still in there.
In a tweet, European Commission President Jean-Claud Juncker triumphantly announced that the special Brexit summit had lasted just fifteen minutes. According to reports, the guidelines were adopted within a minute. Sounds like a worthwhile trip.
— Jean-Claude Juncker (@JunckerEU) April 29, 2017
The summit was nothing more than a carefully orchestrated attempt at disguising European division as unity. Only a handful of small amendments were made, each one agreed well in advance. One concerned the rights of EU citizens living in the UK, including a plea for Britain’s permanent residency application procedure to be simplified – for once Remainers have been complaining about red tape, the form is fiendishly complicated.
Another addition calls for whatever agreement made over financial regulations to prioritise stability, EU language for costly regulations. France in particular, are known to be worried of the UK stealing business from Paris and the rest of the EU by making London a haven for financial institutions keen to avoid red tape.
Earlier in the day, European Council President Donald Tusk told the media that, the future of UK-EU relations could only be discussed once the past had been “sorted out”. Tusk’s assertion contradicts the guidelines, which state that the “nothing is agreed until everything is agreed”.
Nevertheless, it is clear the EU wants to extract promises from the UK over citizens’ rights and the ridiculous €50bn before cracking on with trade talks which will undoubtedly see a breakdown in unity.
The likes of Germany, Poland and Sweden may continue to play sensible, but as France and Spain begin to be distracted by national priorities we will begin to see how disunited the EU really is.