1. Exquisite Tweets from @davidallengreen, @AlbertoNardelli, @DavidHenigUK, @MESandbu, @djmgaffneyw4, @syrpis, @StefaanDeRynck, @kevinhorourke

    PreoccupationsCollected by Preoccupations

    Could the EU have (gasp) erred in insisting on a backstop in the withdrawal agreement?

    Will the price of this insistence be a disorderly Brexit?

    By me, at @FT

    ft.com/content/0df643…

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    davidallengreen

    David Allen Green

  2. But the principle - avoiding a hard border in Northern Ireland - was there from the beginning. Coupled with other principles in guidelines + May’s red lines, unclear (to me at least) what other proposal could have been put forward?

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    AlbertoNardelli

    Alberto Nardelli

  3. Thanks.

    When did you first become aware of the backstop proposal?

    Was it before December 2017?

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    davidallengreen

    David Allen Green

  4. I can’t remember exact date, but think backstop is a consequence of EU principles & UK red lines (same as other elements of WA). What I do remember, because i wrote about it, even before guidelines is everyone wanted to avoid hard border but nobody knew how if UK out of SM/CU

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    AlbertoNardelli

    Alberto Nardelli

  5. You were following Brexit (as I was) at the time when both sides were committing to avoiding a hard border.

    The bacsktop was not seen as an obvious and sole way of achieving that before December 2017.

    Is it a means which has now become an end?

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    davidallengreen

    David Allen Green

  6. On this occasion I disagree with @davidallengreen - I don't think the Ireland issue could be put into a separate strand of negotiations, and there were obvious grounds to think UK did not take issue seriously.

    David Allen Green @davidallengreen
    Could the EU have (gasp) erred in insisting on a backstop in the withdrawal agreement?

    Will the price of this insistence be a disorderly Brexit?

    By me, at @FT

    ft.com/content/0df643…

    Reply Retweet Like

    DavidHenigUK

    David Henig

  7. I understand your point. I guess my question (and i don’t know the answer) is how else do you avoid a hard border in all possible future scenarios given EU principles & UK red lines? (And am not implying principles and red lines are right or wrong, they are what they are)

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    AlbertoNardelli

    Alberto Nardelli

  8. Misunderstanding. Need to avoid physical NI border always priority for WA. In Dec 2017 this was _demoted_ to backstop. UK: "we want to sort it thru future rel'ship or tech". EU: "OK let's try, but if doesn't work we still need it sorted". So backstop was a _concession_ to the UK.

    David Allen Green @davidallengreen
    Could the EU have (gasp) erred in insisting on a backstop in the withdrawal agreement?

    Will the price of this insistence be a disorderly Brexit?

    By me, at @FT

    ft.com/content/0df643…

    Reply Retweet Like

    MESandbu

    Martin Sandbu

    "Not insisting on backstop" would have meant not agreeing to try to solve border question thru future rel'ship/tech. That would have worsened chance of success. Maybe by "insisting on backstop" DAG means just "insisting on border solution in WA". But that was there from the start

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    MESandbu

    Martin Sandbu

  9. This is not a provocation, and I can imagine its arguments resonating with some in EU27, but I can't agree with it. Yes, backstop emerged at a late hour, but border as a WA issue didn't. ft.com/content/0df643…

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    djmgaffneyw4

    Declan Gaffney

    This is what the European Council's negotiating guidelines said post-A50 notification (April 2017)

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    djmgaffneyw4

    Declan Gaffney

    So the border was there from the start. But the UK never came forward with any credible 'flexible and imaginative ' solutions & signalled that it expected guaranteeing the CTA would suffice to meet the requirement.

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    djmgaffneyw4

    Declan Gaffney

    'the demand for a backstop was not an explicit objective of the EU27 before last December' is thus strictly true & irrelevant. Nobody, apart it seems from parts of HMG, was in any doubt that resolution of the border issue in the WA was an explicit objective.

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    djmgaffneyw4

    Declan Gaffney

  10. The one clear fact is the unless the UK and Ireland end up in the same SM and CU, there will need to be border checks somewhere; either in the Irish Sea, or on the Irish border. The backstop is a commitment to no hard border in Ireland. 1/

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    syrpis

    Phil Syrpis

  11. You may not like this backstop, or any backstop, and it may not be the best way to deal with the issue. But the border issue would be making negotiations difficult even if a different approach had been taken. That just flows from the UK's red lines.

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    djmgaffneyw4

    Declan Gaffney

  12. One can discuss whether it goes further than needed to secure the Good Friday Agreement. But the key point remains. If the EU (and the UK) want to ensure no hard border (and they say they do), then the backstop needs to be in the WA. 2/

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    syrpis

    Phil Syrpis

    Leaving it to the future relationship, or to a separate Treaty, creates a risk that there will, eg in the event of a failure to agree terms, be a hard border once the UK has exited the EU. And I can see why the EU (and UK) do not want to take that risk. 3/3

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    syrpis

    Phil Syrpis

  13. As for the legal argument that the withdrawal agreement is not the best place to address the issue, I'll leave that to the lawyers. But the border issue arises because the Treaties will cease to apply to the UK in March 2019: it is obviously a withdrawal agreement issue.

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    djmgaffneyw4

    Declan Gaffney

  14. Withdrawal of UK must be orderly ... on all issues, including on Ireland in terms of avoiding a hard border.

    Daniel Ferrie 🇪🇺 @DanielFerrie
    .@MichelBarnier #GAC50: We worked a lot w/ #UK over past weeks & days to find a comprehensive deal [...] We are not there yet. Several open issues remain, incl. #Ireland. More time needed. We are going to take the time, calmly & seriously, to reach this deal over the next weeks

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    StefaanDeRynck

    Stefaan De Rynck

  15. @davidallengreen is of course right: if HMG reneges on the backstop it previously agreed this may well lead to a no deal Brexit, considerable economic damage to Member States including Ireland, and the very hard border the backstop was designed to avoid.
    ft.com/content/0df643…

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    kevinhorourke

    Kevin Hjortshøj O'Rourke

    Does it follow that the EU was wrong to push the backstop? I don't think so. Avoiding a hard border was identified as one of the 3 key divorce issues and understandably so given the stakes. And HMG displayed bad faith on the issue throughout.

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    kevinhorourke

    Kevin Hjortshøj O'Rourke

    They clearly intended to use the Irish border issue to force the EU to accept no border controls anywhere, despite HMG being free to do trade deals with others, diverging in terms of regulations and all the rest of it. They were incredibly cynical.

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    kevinhorourke

    Kevin Hjortshøj O'Rourke

    David Davis said the Irish border would be a test case for borders more generally. Johnson said as much when he came to Dublin. And the 2 position papers in August 2017 also made it pretty clear that this was what was in their minds.

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    kevinhorourke

    Kevin Hjortshøj O'Rourke

    By that stage it was clear that HMG was negotiating in bad faith, and that is when the EU started becoming clearer in terms of spelling out what we basically all agree is required to avoid a hard border. What else was it supposed to do?

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    kevinhorourke

    Kevin Hjortshøj O'Rourke

    There was always going to be a crisis when the UK political system finally confronted the inescapable logic of borders and regulatory divergence. The problem is that it is now very late in the day and if HMG storms out of the talks or cannot deliver the Commons it may be too late

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    kevinhorourke

    Kevin Hjortshøj O'Rourke

    You could perhaps argue that the crisis should have been forced earlier. And in a sense it was, last December, but no sooner had HMG signed up to the backstop than Davis et al started arguing that it didn't matter. The EU pushed back hard then but should perhaps have been tougher

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    kevinhorourke

    Kevin Hjortshøj O'Rourke