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Come to the EU – The Home of the 11th-Hour Deal!

by John Brian Shannon

“Every day we teach others how to treat us” …is a truism that hides in plain sight wherever there are human beings

And the EU has taught the world and UK politicians that the EU27 countries are famous for their last-minute 11th-hour trade and political agreements.

No matter the hoopla surrounding any potential agreement that the EU is negotiating and whatever is said by European Union leaders and negotiators during the entire course of negotiations, it turns out that most of it is nothing more than posing and positioning in order to subsequently obtain the best deal, and this process continues right up to the last-minute during negotiations.

Which is completely legitimate! Yes, it’s frustrating and they bring a lot of anger towards them from their negotiating partners — but that’s the way the EU chooses to negotiate their trade and political deals, and it’s as legitimate as any other way to negotiate deals. (It’s just not my way, for the record)

The negative for the EU is that it teaches the EU’s potential partners that there will always be a deal, but that it won’t be signed until the last possible second.

Consequently, anyone who has watched the EU since 1993 knows that there *will* be an 11th-hour deal — in this case on the topic of Brexit — which is why everyone should forget the smoke and mirrors routine, go home, and completely disregard EU utterances until March 28th, 2019.

Because nothing about Brexit really matters to the EU until then.


Would You Like an Example?

Of course you would! And I’m sooo happy to provide it.

The (excellent, by the way) Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between Canada, the European Union and its member states took 7 long years to negotiate and even now in its 8th-year still isn’t fully implemented due to protectionist elements within the EU.

Not one EU member has ratified the CETA agreement and some of the EU27 have indicated they want to renegotiate the agreement, or they want exceptions or even certain provisions added to the existing CETA agreement.

In the meantime, CETA has been provisionally applied which means that the treaty eliminates 98% of the tariffs between Canada and the EU.

In the end, there seems only a 50% chance of getting this agreement ratified by the EU27 — yet it’s such a good agreement that other countries are considering it as a template to use for their own (non-EU) trade agreements.

Remember the adage: “Every day we teach others how to treat us.”

(Drum roll, please)

So, let’s look at what the EU has taught the world in regards to negotiating CETA

  1. The EU played its typical negotiating games and signed at the last-minute, in a huff
  2. It took 7 long years for Canada to negotiate a trade deal with the EU
  3. The EU implemented only the parts of the deal that they liked
  4. Not one EU country has yet ratified CETA although Canada ratified it promptly
  5. If only one of the EU27 fails to ratify CETA it cancels the entire deal
  6. Long after negotiations were concluded, some EU27 members are now trying to cherry-pick and/or renegotiate the parts of the deal that they didn’t like

I dunno. That’s a pretty damning indictment of the EU. Certainly there’s no blame on the Canadians, even the EU agrees that.

Canada negotiated fairly and got the best deal it could over the 7-year negotiating process, it ratified the deal promptly, and implemented it immediately as instructed by the agreement terms — and then, settled down to wait to see if the EU would keep their side of the bargain.

And it looks like, well… not. It looks like the EU will not be keeping their side of the bargain. At least, they haven’t kept their side of the CETA agreement, yet.

But they said they would! cried naive Canadians.

Consequently, every day that passes since CETA was signed equates to the EU living a lie.

How’s that for rude negotiating tactics, an abnormally long negotiation process, only partial implementation on the EU-side, failure to ratify on the EU-side, and some EU27 countries are now trying to cherry-pick or renegotiate the parts of the CETA agreement that they didn’t like?

Does that sound like a reliable trading partner? You tell me.


All of Which Should Convince You to Ignore EU Utterances until March 28, 2019

So, pack your bags, Theresa May. The EU27 are using you.

The EU27 have no intention of negotiating in good faith (until, say, the 11th-hour of March 28, 2019) and then, once an agreement is hastily signed in a flurry of bureaucratic face-saving on March 29th, the EU will expect the House of Commons to ratify the agreement promptly, yet the EU27 itself will fail to ratify the deal, followed by certain EU countries trying to cherry-pick or renegotiate the parts of the agreement that they didn’t like… in a process that could last for years.


Prove me wrong – I dare you!

Nothing is so damning as history and the Canadian example is but one of many that demonstrates the EU’s history of employing disrespectful negotiating tactics against its potential trade or political partners.

Those who see the EU through rose-tinted lenses must do their own Google searches to find out that the EU27 are only in business for themselves and will stop at nothing to further their own agenda (as is their right).

But what ‘throws’ a lot of us is that they use tactics that will (if we let them away with it) turn every one of their good EU allies into EU enemies. And that isn’t good for us, it isn’t good for the world, and ultimately it’s not good for the EU27.

Let’s therefore help these continentals learn to play well with others, and thereby change their sad history of bad dealing with friendly nations.

The Day After Theresa May’s Draft Withdrawal Agreement Fails…

by John Brian Shannon

Theresa May’s draft Brexit Withdrawal Agreement (WA) may be better than nothing but it isn’t the best possible deal for the UK, for British business, nor for British citizens. But a better deal may still be in the cards for the United Kingdom and the European Union.

The difference between a *somewhat better than a No Deal Brexit* and the *best possible Brexit* amounts to making three changes to the present draft Withdrawal Agreement:

  1. Remove the backstop
  2. Remove jurisdiction of the European Court (ECJ)
  3. Add a guaranteed end date to Customs Union membership

That’s the difference between Theresa May’s risky deal and a great deal for both sides.

With better negotiators the UK government would’ve succeeded on all counts, including the three mentioned above. That goes without saying.

If Theresa May had brought that deal home it would’ve been signed, sealed and delivered by now.

However, if Parliament rejects the present draft WA as it seems destined to do on December 11, 2018 — there’s another kick at the can which could happen on any given day right up until March 29th, 2018. And that’s exactly what needs to happen.

In the very few days after the present draft Withdrawal Agreement fails in the UK House of Commons, British MP’s should vote on and approve such changes to the draft as necessary and send Theresa May or her Brexit secretary back to the EU with the new offer that’s approved by Parliament. The moment the EU signs on the dotted line it’s binding on all concerned parties. That’s how to get this deal done.

Offer, then counter-offer. Repeat, until both sides are satisfied. That’s how negotiations work. Comprendi?


What’s the Deal With the Backstop?

The whole Northern Ireland border issue is a red herring.

First off, the situation between the people of Northern Ireland and the people of the Republic of Ireland has matured over many years to the point where a normal border (like every country in the world employs) could be created and there wouldn’t be a problem operating a normal, hard border.

Alternatively, if the situation between the two jurisdictions isn’t as mature as I suggest, technology could be employed to capture tariffs and ensure standards are met at the point of delivery in both jurisdictions.

And if the UK decides to utilize a zero-tariff economy post-Brexit, there’s no need for remote or in-transit tariff technology as there won’t be any need to capture tariffs.

With a little bit of creative thinking the wholly contrived ‘backstop issue’ goes away and most of the problems with Theresa May’s draft Withdrawal Agreement disappear!


Without the Backstop, the ECJ Doesn’t Need Jurisdiction in Any UK Territory – Devolved or Not

Once the backstop disappears there’s no longer any need for the ECJ to have jurisdiction anywhere in the UK.

Even if that means that Republic of Ireland exports destined for Northern Ireland must first be shipped to England, Scotland or Wales (to allow proper border checks to occur in England, Scotland or Wales) and then on to Northern Ireland in the normal manner.

The reverse is true for exports from Northern Ireland travelling to the Republic of Ireland. To satisfy all UK and EU regulations goods could be shipped from NI to England, Scotland or Wales ports, and after passing inspection, shipped on to the RoI.

Such trans-shipment procedures are quite normal in the 21st-century, but it might be a first for Europe. Can they handle it?


Negotiations 101

Only a fool accepts the first offer in any negotiation process — and that is doubly true when dealing with politicians who spend their entire careers negotiating one thing or another.

The problem is that Brexit negotiations are taking too long. The longer it takes to agree a Brexit deal, the more uncertainty for markets on both sides of the English Channel.

Only in Europe could Brexit take 3-years (we’re almost at 3-years now) and at present rates of progress it looks like it could drag on for another 3-years.

When Britons stop acting like they live in the 120th-largest economic power in the world instead of the 6th-largest the UK will finally live up to its full potential.

I exhort Prime Minister Theresa May and the rest of the UK government to; “Rise and rise again, until lambs become lions!”


The draft Withdrawal Agreement was Created to Prevent a Hard Brexit

However, it has significant deficiencies that need to be rectified before it can be approved by the House of Commons. Once those corrections are made it should be passed immediately by UK MP’s and sent on to the EU27 for their approval.

Draft Withdrawal Agreement was created to prevent a Hard Brexit

Summary

  • Theresa May should offer her draft Withdrawal Agreement up for vote in Parliament on December 11th as planned. Where it is likely to fail.
  • The PM should then offer the Political Declaration (only) up for vote on December 12th to demonstrate goodwill to the EU. Where it should pass easily.
  • Then the Prime Minister should consult with party leaders in the House of Commons and along with her Cabinet, create a counter-offer consisting of the existing draft WA, but with the backstop removed, any reference to the ECJ removed, and a firm end-date for leaving the so-called ‘temporary’ Customs Union with the EU. That date might be December 31, 2020, or it may be December 31, 2021.
  • And that new Withdrawal Agreement should be voted on and passed by the House of Commons if MP’s wish to honour the will of UK voters.
  • If the EU ratifies those changes, they get £39 billion on March 29, 2019 that Theresa May promised them in exchange for a signed Withdrawal Agreement — but if they don’t ratify it the UK owes (only) £9.65 billion (according to reliable sources) to the EU to pay expected future obligations to the EU.

On top of everything, everyone should stop panicking. We’re talking about a DRAFT Withdrawal Agreement, which by definition, means it’s still subject to negotiation no matter what EU negotiators or Theresa May say. It’s a DRAFT proposal. Get it?

It’s time for British MP’s to grab hold of this process; Let the deal fail in the House of Commons, then get the Political Declaration passed in the House, and then make the alterations to the draft Withdrawal Agreement that a majority of MP’s can support, then get that officially passed in the House — and then offer it to the EU by December 31, 2018. In that order. And that soon.

If the EU accepts the new Withdrawal Agreement proposal, everyone’s Brexit problems are solved, which allows the EU to be eligible to receive £39 billion on March 29, 2019.

If not, there’s plenty more time for negotiations no. matter. what. the. politicians. say.

Why Theresa May’s Draft Withdrawal Bill Should be Voted Down

by John Brian Shannon

“Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” — Benjamin Franklin

Theresa May’s EU draft Withdrawal Agreement seems to meet 3-out-of-the-4 metrics of the leave campaign, but importantly, it doesn’t meet the last and arguably most important metric of a successful Brexit; That of being able to negotiate the UK’s own trade deals — even after the official Brexit date is past!

That’s failure by any standard.


Adding Insult to Injury

Another knock against Theresa May and her draft Withdrawal Agreement (WA) is that she’s threatened to cancel Brexit altogether if the House of Commons doesn’t approve the draft WA she’s delivered.

That’s a direct slap in the face to 17.4 million British voters who voted to leave the European Union; They didn’t vote for a high-falutin’ 585-page draft Withdrawal Agreement, nor did they vote for a newfangled Political Declaration with the EU — they voted to Leave the European Union.

Although she’s only uttered that threat twice (in public, anyway) it’s the kind of thing you expect from 3rd-world strongmen — not a Prime Minister who represents the world’s oldest democracy.

It comes perilously close to Theresa May choosing to remain on good terms with her continental buddies, preferring them over the British electorate. And we know what that’s called.


Forget the Arbitrary Deadlines that Favour the EU Countries

It’s telling that Theresa May travelled to Brussels late last week and was suddenly found to be in possession of a fully completed 585-page Withdrawal Agreement, and startlingly, she told UK MP’s that they have only a few days to review it before they must vote it up or vote it down.

Aren’t Britons more important Theresa, than your EU friends? Was it not Britons that built the great country you’re privileged to lead, or was it your continental pals? Isn’t the democracy you serve more important than arbitrary deadlines set by the UK’s competitor nations?

Forget telling us with words. Show us.

“Don’t tell me what you can do, show me what you have done.” — Henry Ford


Meeting Three-Out-Of-Four Metrics Doesn’t Equal £39 Billion

Until Theresa May brings home a Withdrawal Agreement worthy of passing in the House of Commons, there’s no way UK taxpayers will countenance the transfer of £39 billion to the EU — and if Theresa May tries to strong-arm the ‘3-out-of-4’ Withdrawal Agreement through the House of Commons and thereby then feel she can pay her pals in Brussels a lump sum payment (which they haven’t earned) the Tory government will fall hard and Conservatives needn’t ever worry about forming a government again. Said every voter.


We Will Never be Here Again: Take the Time to Get it Right

It’s not like a Brexit deal comes around every winter just in time for Black Friday.

If ever there were a time to slow down and get it right — this is it — as opposed to Theresa May and her continental friends who want it passed through the House of Commons so they can get the £39 billion before anyone has time to study it too closely.

Perhaps each institution in the UK should be tasked with creating a report on Theresa May’s Withdrawal Brexit plan and publishing it publicly — the good and the bad — with gov.uk paying the bill and making those reports available (in PDF form) to UK taxpayers and other stakeholders in Britain’s future.

We know that partially financed by the EU institutions such as the CBI and others will like this deal because fundamentally it’s a BRINO deal (Brexit In Name Only) as trade with the EU and other countries won’t change appreciably as long as the UK remains in the EU Customs Union.

But other institutions and think tanks may have different ideas. Some may question why their members are to be held back (on account of Theresa May’s Withdrawal Agreement) from trading with the world via new Free Trade Agreements that could be signed with other countries via better Withdrawal Agreement terms.


Here’s a Partial List of Countries Whose Leaders Have Publicly and Enthusiastically Endorsed Free Trade with a Post-Brexit UK:

The U.S.A. wants a zero-tariff free trade agreement soon after Brexit. Positive features of this agreement would be *reciprocity* which means nobody gets screwed on trade deficits, etc., and *equivalency* which means (among other things) that products that are safety certified in one country are automatically approved for sale in the other country. Thankfully, the Americans are strong proponents of both points. It’s such a good system that I hope that all of Britain’s future trading partners emulate this model.

Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh — there’s over 2 billion customers right there! — have all said they want free trade deals with the UK as soon as possible following Brexit. Some have gone so far as to say they would use the CETA agreement as a template for a new UK agreement to save negotiating time so they can get to the good stuff (high volumes of trade) sooner.

The TPP countries (now called CPTPP) led by Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, have all agreed to allow the UK to join the group as soon as Brexit is completed. This massive trade bloc is the 3rd-largest trading bloc in the world after NAFTA and the EU.

China has said that they would like a free trade agreement with the UK in the post-Brexit timeframe and China’s president has been travelling the world trying (and succeeding) to get free trade agreements signed with his country in recent months.

Many other countries too, would like to trade with a post-Brexit UK which is still the 5th-largest economy in the world (by GDP, but not by PPP) and the sooner all Britons realize that they are the 5th-largest economy in the world, the better. Because it seems that some Britons think they’re the 120th-largest economy in the world and act accordingly.


Paying £39 Billion to Give Up UK Fishing Rights to the EU (???)

What madness is this?

When you offer to pay £39 billion to a country for a bespoke Brexit deal/free trade agreement, and then they drop the free trade agreement portion, and then they say the UK must stay in their Customs Union (meaning the UK can’t sign its own trade deals) and then they tell you they want huge fishing rights in UK waters, and then they tell you they might not allow the UK to sell services in their economy, and then they tell you that UK airlines might not be able to land their planes in their country, and then they tell you that the UK can’t continue to be a part of the Galileo project that the UK partially funded — but they still want the £39 billion — they’re not your friends, Theresa.

It’s time to take stock and decide who you’re working for Theresa May. You either work for the UK or the EU, but not both.

We won’t be paying attention to your words, Theresa. We’ll be watching your deeds.