Were the Brexit talks really a success?

News of a breakthrough in the Brexit negotiations triggered a wave of relief last week. Brexiteers were delighted at the prospect of the start of negotiations on the UK's future trade relations with the EU. In the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland many were happy with the promise that there would be no hard border. But many questions and problems still remain unresolved, Europe's journalists stress.

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The Guardian (GB) /

Difficult decisions simply postponed

Theresa May's obvious delight over the agreement with the EU is wholly unwarranted, the Guardian admonishes:

“Mrs May's Panglossian claim that leavers and remainers will welcome last week's agreement does not withstand serious scrutiny. ... Mrs May's statement to MPs was wishful thinking. The argument between hard and soft Brexit is not over. The cabinet is not united behind her, nor her party, nor the country. There is none of the new sense of optimism of which she spoke. There are only the realities that none of the key decisions has been agreed and that the ticking clock, not Mrs May, is shaping the future of Britain.”

The Times (GB) /

Davis not up to the job

The Times is not impressed by British Brexit Minister David Davis first saying on the weekend that the agreements reached with the EU on avoiding a hard border with Ireland were merely a statement of intent only to back-peddle the next day:

“If Mr Davis had been taken seriously his remark would have implied that the British government says one thing to satisfy the formal arrangements of Brexit while not really meaning it. That is why he hurriedly insisted yesterday that the border arrangement negotiated by the prime minister was, after all, 'legally enforceable'. This was not a clarification by Mr Davis but a direct contradiction of his earlier statement. ... Mr Davis must begin to take his job rather more seriously.”

Le Soir (BE) /

British have almost zero negotiating clout

The British have had to accept all the EU's demands because they failed to grasp a simple fact, Le Soir writes:

“The Brits understood too late that even if the Europeans set aside any hard feelings they couldn't grant them much. Because whether the issue at hand is financial regulations, the people's wellbeing, the Irish question or the integrity of the single market - each case is bound up with basic treaty-backed principles involving commitments vis-à-vis the EU's own citizens and companies. As soon as Britain decided to leave, the power and clout within the EU that its leaders had been used to wielding for over 40 years were reduced to zero.”

Financial Times (GB) /

Tories must prevent their own destruction

For the sake of their own interests the Tories should let the citizens vote on the result of the Brexit negotiations, the Financial Times advises:

“The far left and hard right have conspired to make Brexit an entirely Tory project, for which Tories will take all the blame. ... If the Tories want to avoid annihilation then, they should try to get the best possible deal and then put it to a public vote. Polls show growing support for this. It would be the grown-up thing to do. It might even start to heal some divisions. And it would be a great deal more impressive than hoping to get this over and move on. Everyone loses if this game is won by the populists.”

Jyllands-Posten (DK) /

Ambiguity won't make Brexit any easier

A number of issues were deliberately left open in this first round of the negotiations, journalist Ulla Terkelsen explains in Jyllands-Posten:

“One bureaucratic expression that emerged from this round of the EU row is 'creative ambiguity'. It refers to diplomatic formulations that are deliberately imprecise. ... Diplomats will say that it is a useful means of avoiding diplomatic problems or war. Because the idea behind this linguistic confusion is essentially that no one loses face and ducks out. ... But what if someone insists on clarity? Then the Orwellian formulations have the opposite effect: the partners feel betrayed, just as the Northern Irish Protestants felt betrayed over the obscure formulations about the Irish border.”

Irish Independent (IE) /

Propaganda instrument for Irish republicans

With its aggressive approach the Irish government has offended the Northern Irish Protestants unnecessarily, the Irish Independent criticises:

“Like two gung-ho American generals, [Irish Taoiseach] Leo Varadkar and [Foreign Minister] Simon Coveney set out to win the Brexit battle without regard to collateral damage they might cause to relations between the Republic and Northern Protestants, and not just the DUP ... First, [ruling party] Fine Gael has been dog-whistling about a united Ireland in a determined way for some time now as part of its Brexit campaign. Second, this rhetoric has transferred itself to a terrifying sectarian surge on social media in the Republic. Finally, this Fine Gael flag-waving nationalist fever benefits only one party on this island - Sinn Fein.”