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Leading Swedish MEP CHARLIE WEIMERS reveals why he is fed up with Monsieur Barnier »

When Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, sits all the way down to resume Brexit negotiations with his British counterpart David Frost right this moment, let’s hope he has realized his lesson.

From the second Britain voted for Brexit greater than 4 years in the past, Brussels grew to become enveloped by an emotionally charged thunderstorm — with Mr Barnier as its overzealous lightning bolt.

Yet final week, even these European MEPs who thought that they’d seen all of it — myself included — have been astounded by Barnier’s newest incendiary salvo.

Insisting that Britain won’t ever be handed full sovereignty of its fishing waters, Barnier steered that whereas Britain may have management of its coastal waters, ‘the fish that are inside these waters’ is ‘one other story’.

From the second Britain voted for Brexit greater than 4 years in the past, Brussels grew to become enveloped by an emotionally charged thunderstorm says Charlie Weimer (pictured)

Petulance

Of course, as each MEP is aware of, some of the politically charged points in Britain is entry to its fishing waters. 

How else can we clarify the stinging ultimatum laid down by Boris Johnson yesterday, itself little doubt a response to Barnier’s intransigence?

In no unsure phrases, Mr Johnson reiterated that Britain is ‘making ready, at our borders and at our ports, to be prepared for’ a ‘buying and selling association with the EU like Australia’s’.

Certainly it was a daring, no-nonsense act of statesmanship designed to reassure his residents on the eve of essential negotiations. 

But one has to wonder if it might have been wanted had Barnier prioritised political compromises that would have enabled a deal over making such unhelpful remarks.

Whatever the reality, his petulance lends justification to rumours circulating amongst EU diplomats that European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen needs to sideline him and take management of the negotiators herself.

You may very well be forgiven for pondering that the prospect of such a transfer would enrage anti-federalist MEPs corresponding to myself. 

And but, having watched how Barnier’s arsenal of aggressive techniques have failed to interrupt the present deadlock, it has develop into more and more clear that he merely is not up to the job. 

After all, the function of the EU’s chief negotiator is to not play politics however to work in the direction of an settlement with the United Kingdom — the European Union’s most essential buying and selling accomplice, on a par with the United States and China.

For the reality is that Brexit and the end result of the continued negotiations are politically delicate topics. 

Livelihoods on either side of the Channel are at stake, and macho bluster merely is not going to chop it.

Indeed, it is hardly stunning {that a} decision is but to be reached when the EU has put a lot effort into attempting to impose its personal rules on the UK.

Take the instance of state assist — the usage of public cash to present monetary help to organisations and firms — a instrument which Downing Street hopes to utilise to subsidise new industries after Brexit and, collectively with Britain’s fisheries, is seen as the important thing remaining impediment to a deal.

At the second, the EU’s intransigent negotiating crew maintains that Britain can solely get pleasure from a fruitful entry to its market if it pledges to stay aligned to the bloc’s guidelines on state assist.

On paper, which will look like a technical drawback, however in the end what this negotiation comes all the way down to is one thing extra elementary — belief. 

In this case, the EU’s failure to belief the UK to distribute state assist in a accountable method.

Of course, this overlooks the truth that if there is one space the place the birthplace of Western-European democracy must be trusted, it is in its institutional framework.

On a sensible degree, too, fears that the UK would all of the sudden dish out large handouts of state assist are misplaced.

Let’s not neglect that in 2018, Britain spent solely half as a lot on state assist as the typical EU nation. 

And that is earlier than the Covid pandemic drove European international locations to inject monstrous quantities of presidency money into the non-public sector.  

Germany alone splashed out virtually twice as a lot state cash because the UK.

Indeed, if anybody has grounds to be suspicious concerning the unfair use of state assist, it is Britain.

Undoubtedly conscious of this, yesterday the EU shifted its disdain for Britain’s dealing with of its departure to deal with the leaked textual content of a proposed Internal Market Bill as a result of be revealed tomorrow.

In essence, Prime Minister Johnson’s Bill would override two sections of the Withdrawal Agreement first negotiated by his predecessor Theresa May: these on state assist and customs in Northern Ireland.

Torpedo

Like clockwork, President von der Leyen warned that if the Bill is handed, it might torpedo any hope of a post-Brexit commerce deal, even supposing the draft laws hasn’t even been revealed.

Predictably, Barnier weighed in, too, claiming in a grandiose vogue that the Northern Ireland Protocol within the Withdrawal Agreement was a ‘prerequisite for peace for the reason that finish of the [Irish] battle’.

Of course, we nonetheless must see the element of the Bill earlier than making a judgment, although I strongly suspect that these accusations are overblown.

Even so, this episode has revealed the EU’s knee-jerk method to those negotiations. 

Put to at least one facet the truth that quite a few EU member states fail to precisely implement the bloc’s many protocols. 

Far extra regarding is the way it is symptomatic of the EU negotiators’ reluctance to simply accept that, whether or not it likes it or not, the UK is going to develop into a sovereign nation on the finish of the 12 months.

When Michel Barnier (pictured), the EU's chief negotiator, sits down to resume Brexit negotiations with his British counterpart David Frost today, let's hope he has learned his lesson

When Michel Barnier (pictured), the EU’s chief negotiator, sits all the way down to resume Brexit negotiations with his British counterpart David Frost right this moment, let’s hope he has realized his lesson

For, crucially, Brexit needn’t be unhealthy information for the EU.

Indeed, if the Covid disaster has taught us something, it is that doing issues in a different way on a global scale could be helpful. We can be taught from one another’s successes and failures.

Understandably, it is laborious for Brussels to simply accept that in areas corresponding to monetary providers, the UK Government is more likely to choose to go its personal regulatory method.

Damaging

Yet given it has develop into clear that there shall be many events the place the UK Government chooses to not deviate from sure EU technical requirements, corresponding to in automobile manufacturing, it is merely not affordable for the likes of Barnier to dismiss Britain outright.

For that is exactly what Brussels’ chief negotiator and his acolytes have been relentlessly doing — although the EU’s commerce association with Switzerland, which doesn’t deal with providers and items equally, proves that Barnier’s claims about flexibility endangering the one market are farcical.

It additionally forgets that proscribing EU market entry for UK-based corporations might finish up damaging Europe, not least as a result of its customers and importers shall be disadvantaged of British enterprise.

Moreover, a few of these companies with a big presence within the UK, corresponding to BMW, are literally owned by EU shareholders. 

How would the EU profit from seeing its provide chain disrupted?

And that is earlier than you issue within the debilitating influence that proscribing monetary funding from the City of London into the EU would have on mainland Europe’s post-Covid restoration.

And in order Michel Barnier sits down right this moment on the negotiating desk, he would do effectively to wake up to a chilly laborious truth: the Brexit clock is ticking — and Britain and Europe’s badly struggling economies merely don’t have any time for political video games.

n Charlie Weimers is MEP representing the Sweden Democrats, which is a part of European Conservatives and Reformists group.


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