Little progress on Brexit

The third round of the Brexit negotiations has also ended without any progress to speak of. Key issues like the rights of EU citizens and the Irish border remain unresolved. And the question of Britain's financial obligations vis-à-vis the EU was once again a major bone of contention. Commentators ask who stands to lose most from the negotiators' intransigence.

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The Daily Telegraph (GB) /

Vanity and intransigence will backfire

The intransigence of both negotiating parties will come back to haunt them, columnist Janet Daley warns in The Daily Telegraph:

“Strangely enough, considering the EU's proud determination to abolish national rivalries, this is beginning to feel like the run-up to the First World War, in which the heads of European states were so bound up in their own vanity and bloody-minded intransigence that they destroyed the possibility of a diplomatic solution. The current situation is not, I must point out, likely to lead to war but it could easily produce a long, miserable period of economic decline and attrition both in Europe and in the UK.”

Sydsvenskan (SE) /

UK in a fix

The tough negotiations between London and the EU are an indication that the British will suffer more from the consequences of Brexit than the EU, Sydsvenskan believes:

“The confidence of British households has decreased markedly in recent months and the Bank of England has forecast a drop in investments for the coming years. At the same time anxiety is growing at the political level. Labour has proposed a softer course. This approach is also backed by a number of Tories who could pose a threat to Theresa May's slim majority. … But she won't go back on her No to the free movement of persons. And that means a free market is off the cards, because the EU has made it clear that the one freedom is a prerequisite for the other, and that this principle is unshakeable. … No matter how much good will Brussels shows, the consequences of the divorce will be more painful for the British than for the EU.” (DE) /

Threat of a showdown this autumn

It's always the same thing after each day of negotiations, sighs, feeling reminded of the film Groundhog Day:

“A few polite remarks are exchanged, then the negotiations go on for a couple of days behind closed doors. Finally the two sides appear before the press and announce volubly that once again they have failed to make any progress but that they will continue their efforts. ... If the whole thing were no more than a fiction or a satire you could have a good laugh and get down to business. But the Brexit is a bitter reality. ... If the negotiators don't achieve a breakthrough in the next round - or at the very latest the round after that - it could come to a tumultuous showdown at the autumn summit of the heads of state and government. It's no wonder that people in Brussels are gradually losing their patience and calling for swifter progress.”

The Times (GB) /

No special treatment from the EU

Brexit Minister David Davis needs to recognise that the EU won't compromise its principles, The Times warns:

“David Cameron hoped to win a meaningful renegotiation of Britain's relationship with Brussels with personal appeals to fellow leaders, but he hoped in vain. The previous year Athens's attempt to force Europe's hand during the Greek debt crisis backfired badly. Brussels stood firm against Greek pleas for debt write-offs on the basis that special treatment for one EU member would swiftly be demanded by others. … Mr Davis must recognise that playing hardball with the EU when it perceives its integrity to be at stake may end up increasing rather than limiting the damage to the British economy.”

De Morgen (BE) /

Too much love between Brits and EU?

The bond between the negotiating partners is too strong for them to actually go through with the divorce, De Morgen observes:

“That the negotiations could be broken off, however, is unthinkable. That would be to disregard the referendum result. ... But what if the March 2019 deadline is exceeded? It seems the British no longer consider that such a bad thing after all. On the contrary, a growing number of Brits support slow, moderate reforms that can go on for a number of years and don't lead to a separation, but to a new partnership agreement. ... The important thing is that the political leaders in the EU must not waste time telling the British how dumb they are and how wise they themselves are. Because the Brexit was also a legitimate vote of no confidence against a European Union that disregarded its own citizens.”