Different approaches; different needs

David Davis made a statement to the House of Commons this week. A telling statement – as was his interview with Andrew Marr last Sunday morning. [You can see both on the links below]. Mr Davis made some remarks which will come as no surprise to those who are aware of the nature of the EU.

Mr Davis informed the House this week that agreement had been reached on the EHIC health care arrangements, on social security and on frontier workers. These are of fundamental concern to British expats like myself living in an EU country.

But Mr Barnier does not appear to share Mr Davis’ joy at such important progress. This is because the EU has different priorities. For example, Mr Barnier still wants to impose the ECJ’s jurisdiction in the UK post Brexit; and he is evidently  frustrated at the pace of progress according to what he wants.

He wants the UK to agree to a financial settlement before proceeding to the vital post withdrawal trade agreement. He knows the British could leave without an agreement, and don’t need to push the pace. And don’t need to agree the financial package right now; it is, quite obviously, a vital bargaining chip in any such negotiations.

But the EU desperately need the financial package now. The EU is in  desperate straits with the impending loss of the critical net contribution the UK makes to shore up the wasteful EU project and machine.

He also needs to bend the UK to the EU will, and not just because it is in the nature of the EU supra national government to do so.

The UK exit of the EU will set a precedent for other nations. The EU desperately needs to set a precedent according to EU terms in case other member nations try to leave.

And his approach also demonstrates the continental political mindset.  It is top down, all embracing, authoritarian and convinced of its own correctness.

The British mentality is quite different, indeed opposite. And this is at the root of all the problems we have seen over the years between the UK and the EU.

We don’t start with an overarching principle treated as divinely ordained.

We start with the facts of the matter, and ask how best to deal with it and what the likely practical consequences will be.

They say, however,  that the principle or rule is paramount and all else must follow. Whatever the consequences, events must be shaped according to their will…

In reality of course, they invariably end up with x number of derogations or exemptions, in order to accommodate reality. It is very common here in France…

The existence of exemptions demonstrates the inadequacy of the general rule, and therefore of their approach…

But let me come back to specifics in this connection: an example from the recent talks over the so called divorce Bill.

Mr Davis reported that when a UK lawyer gave a talk to the negotiators examining the basis of the EU legal claim to a final bill, the EU team were frustrated and could not see the point: apparently they expected a counter bid, not a questioning of the basis for their claim.

The assumption that they are legally correct and cannot be challenged is typical of their approach.

And they remain unrealistically in EU mode – ie the supra national authority dictates to the individual national governments. That a national government should have the audacity not only to contradict but to logically explain why,  suits neither their unrealistic world view, nor their ingrained arrogance.

Ray Catlin