1. Exquisite Tweets from @GuitarMoog

    PreoccupationsCollected by Preoccupations

    A rambling, disorganised thread on negotiations with the EU and why May’s “bloody difficult woman” approach is so wrong. 1/

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    Steve Bullock

    This is from direct experience as 1st/2nd Sec Development in UKREP negotiating for the UK in EU Council working groups. 2/

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    Steve Bullock

    And from working in the Commission’s External Relations DG (Now the External Action Service) 3/

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    Steve Bullock

    Being ‘tough’ can work, but only if it is used properly and deployed sparingly at strategic points in negs. 4/

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    Steve Bullock

    Being difficult never works. It breaks trust, & creates resentment, & a justifiable unwillingness to compromise in your opposite numbers 5/

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    Steve Bullock

    Negotiation is not, contrary to popular belief, about barging in, thumping the table and demanding you get everything you want. 6/

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    Steve Bullock

    It’s also not about undermining your opposite numbers, or insulting their intelligence by making outlandish and untrue claims. 7/

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    Steve Bullock

    The first key to a successful neg is trust. Both sides must know that the other is negotiating in good faith, & want a reasonable outcome 8/

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    Steve Bullock

    Both sides know that walking away is an option in extremis, but openly threatening to undermines the trust that a solution is being sought9/

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    Steve Bullock

    Compromises and concessions can only be given on the basis of this trust and good faith 10/

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    Steve Bullock

    Second key is understanding the process and your opposite numbers’ properly. The process, in this case, is fixed by one side. 11/

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    Steve Bullock

    That is the process that UK signed up to when they signed the treaties. Fighting it is counter-productive. Understand and use it. 12/

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    Steve Bullock

    Understanding your opposite numbers (oppos) is essential. They also have constraints & expectations placed on them by their stakeholders13/

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    Steve Bullock

    Understanding this and their position allows you to identify solutions that satisfy their concerns and meet your objectives. 14/

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    Steve Bullock

    If you have put yourself in the position that your line is fundamentally incompatible with that of your Oppos, you have already lost. 15/

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    Steve Bullock

    But their opposition may, for example, be about the way in which something is done, not the thing itself. 16/

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    Steve Bullock

    Is it the wording, but not the meaning that is a problem? Suggest alternative wording. be constructive 17/

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    Steve Bullock

    If it is the mechanism, be flexible on the outcome. Is it for optics? Could something else replace it? 18/

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    Steve Bullock

    Only be tough or angry when you judge it will actually bring about the outcome you want. Shows of strength for their own sake don’t work 19/

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    Steve Bullock

    This leads to a third key point. Flexibility must be built into your position from the start. You cannot get everything. 20/

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    Steve Bullock

    Everything cannot be a red line that you’ll die in a ditch for, or you may as well go home before you start. 21/

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    Steve Bullock

    Don’t deploy red lines casually or widely. Oppos respect genuine red lines - they have them too, 22/

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    Steve Bullock

    But claiming everything is a red line will make them disregard the real ones. 23/

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    Steve Bullock

    Your position should be clear and prioritised. Everything that is not a red line should have a fall-back position built in. 24/

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    Steve Bullock

    This means you have to manage expectations at home. Everyone wants their priority to be your No1, but they can’t all be. 25/

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    Steve Bullock

    You should also have a rather complex web of what can be traded-off for each of the biggest priorities 26/

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    Steve Bullock

    The pre-negotations have already been a disaster, with UK govt first trying to divide the EU27 27/

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    Steve Bullock

    And then, when that didn’t work out, deliberately breeding resentment and mistrust 28/

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    Steve Bullock

    One of the complaints about the EU as a negotiator with 3rd countries is that it is too inflexible 29/

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    Steve Bullock

    Everything has to be agreed at council, and negotiating mandates cannot be changed on the fly 30/

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    Steve Bullock

    UK knows this though, so pretending the EU27 side was posturing over sequencing, citizens’ rights etc was absurd 31/

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    Steve Bullock

    And made UK look like it was not a serious negotiator 32/

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    Steve Bullock

    And then the ill-fated No Deal Better than Bad Deal rhetoric, which has had a disastrous effect 33/

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    Steve Bullock

    EU27 does not want UK to walk away - it will cost them - but they will deal with it if needs be. The EU itself is more important to it 34/

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    Steve Bullock

    And it would cost UK an order of magnitude more than EU27, & both sides know this very well 35/

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    Steve Bullock

    So this line was effectively bringing a knife to a gun fight. It served only to reduce trust 36/

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    Steve Bullock

    & again make UK look like it was not a serious, constructive negotiator looking for a mutually beneficial outcome 37/

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    Steve Bullock

    Throughout UK govt. has acted as if EU27 do not have access to UK news, playing solely to domestic opinion 38/

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    Steve Bullock

    EU27 know that UK has backed itself into a corner on the exit bill, ECJ, FoM etc. 39/

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    Steve Bullock

    They know that this govt will find it impossible to go back with a big bill (>£30bn?) or accept FoM or ECJ jurisdiction over anything 40/

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    Steve Bullock

    Ruling this out publicly, instead of explaining and managing expectations at home, again weakens UK 41/

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    Steve Bullock

    It gives credence, again, to the view that UK is planning to walk out, but, even worse 42/

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    Steve Bullock

    It shows UK govt to be either willing to lie to their people or themselves ignorant of the realities. 43/

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    Steve Bullock

    In conclusion, whatever the preparation that the civil service has been doing behind the scenes, UK has approached this appallingly 44/

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    Steve Bullock

    Its naive attempts to show strength have served to undermine their case and strengthen EU27’s resolve 45/

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    Steve Bullock

    Its open, unapologetic lying to the UK public about what they will get has reduced EU27’s respect for them 46/

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    Steve Bullock

    Its posturing and threats have sown mistrust and undermined them as a serious negotiator looking for a real outcome. 47/

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    Steve Bullock

    And they have backed themselves into corners with unforced errors on ECJ, the exit bill and FoM. 48/

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    Steve Bullock

    Finally, it really helps to be right in negotiations. To have the arguments, facts and moral high ground on your side. 49/

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    Steve Bullock

    UK showed again and again, but especially in its treatment of EU27 citizens, that it has none of these 50/

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    Steve Bullock

    The threat to bargain over security cooperation, terrorism & the life & death of citizens, was a moment of appalling moral weakness. 51/

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    Steve Bullock

    So, IMHO, the chances of this govt getting any deal, let alone a good one, in only 21 mths, are minimal. 52/

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    Steve Bullock

    But I think they know this. The level of complexity is too much, the preparations too poor, the messaging self-defeating 53/

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    Steve Bullock

    So I think the plan remains to walk out of negotiations, which will, of course, be a catastrophe for the UK. 54/

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    Steve Bullock

    And all for want of a little humility, trust, honesty, organisation & understanding. But they just couldn’t help themselves, could they? END

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    Steve Bullock