German Alarm Grows Over The EU’s Dangerous Ultimatum Terms For Britain
The title above comes from Ambrose Evans-Pritchard’s March 20, 2019 article in London’s The Telegraph. Mr. Evans-Pritchard begins, “Ever louder voices in Germany are denouncing the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement as a fundamental failure of European statecraft that can lead only to a diplomatic debacle and festering animosity.” Something that I have been saying and writing ever since Brexit passed nearly three years ago.
“If the EU’s ultimatum policy causes a geostrategic rupture with a pillar of the European defense, security, and financial system — sooner or later, as it surely must under the existing terms — the recriminations in Berlin will be ugly,” Mr. Evans-Pritchard wrote.
“Europe is well on its way to inflicting huge damage on itself for decades, by the way it has handled the Brexit talks,” said Marcel Fratzscher, head of the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW) in Berlin. Professor Fratzcher contends “the EU is undermining its own democratic legitimacy by demanding that Westminster MPs swallow the Barnier package with a “gun to their chest,”and subject to threats of “catastrophic consequences” after two-thirds have already rejected it,” Mr. Evans-Pritchard notes.
Britain’s “Parliament is fully justified in rejecting a backstop arrangement that would lock the U.K. into a customs union against its will,” Mr. Evans-Prtichard wrote. “No sovereign nation could agree to such terms lightly. The Bundestag itself could have hardly voted otherwise in comparable circumstances,” Professor Fratzscher wrote in Der Spiegel this week. Professor Fratzscher argues that “if the MPs capitulate and accept the Withdrawal Agreement — this would be “just as catastrophic” as a No-Deal Brexit.”
“The point is obvious,” Mr. Evans-Pritchard wrote: “It is constitutional absurdity to try to imprison a military power with a large industrial economy in the EU’s regulatory and legal orbit — without EU voting rights. This must blow up in acrimony, and end in an abrogation crisis.”
“The Article 50 process may give the EU legal and psychological leverage as the cliff-edge nears; but, this does not make it wise to exploit that power,” Professor Fratzscher wrote. “Not just the British, but the whole European Union will pay an immense price, unless EU leaders make a fair offer under plausible terms,” he said.
“Needless to say, the ‘game theory’ calculus for Brussels has been greatly influenced by signals from the Parliament, the Cabinet Office, and powerful forces within the British economic establishment — that Brexit could be eviscerated, or reversed altogether,” Mr. Evans-Pritchard wrote.
Sigmar Gabriel, Germany’s Vice-Chancellor until last year, says “Europe cannot afford the luxury of a strategic break with Britain,” The Telegraph reported. “The EU is split on multiple lines of cleavage — North/South over money; East/West over rule of law; and is surrounded by dangerous neighbors,” Mr. Evans-Pritchard observes. “We’re the last political vegetarians in a world of meat-eaters. When the British go, everybody will think we have become vegans,” Mr. Gabriel said.
Many are now writing that the EU has grossly mishandled this entire affair; and, overreached to the point of fanning the flames of Brexit and the populist movement throughout Europe. That is hard to argue. But, the EU construct was built on a faulty foundation. The idea was noble. Unite Europe in a common currency and economic ecosystem; and, perhaps eliminate the threat of a third world war breaking out on the continent. But, the EU construct was like being ‘a little bit pregnant.’ There was more linkage under the mosaic that Brussels bore; but, not enough to create the kind of solid foundation that was unlikely to see the likes of Brexit. But, in order to have built that kind of connective fabric, the member states would have had to surrender a lot more of their sovereignty. Aye, there’s the rub. Citizens of Britain, and elsewhere in pockets throughout Europe, have grown increasingly resistant to being told what they can, and cannot do — by a disconnected, distant, sclerotic entity in Brussels. National sovereignty in Britain — trumps having to cede partial sovereignty to the EU. Even if breaking away from the EU could be economically disruptive or painful in the short-term for the U.K., what price do you put on national sovereignty? It is much more precious than the EU and the continent’s intellectual elites and liberals understand/appreciate. RCP, fortunascorner.com