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March 05, 2018

One rock, two vetos, three governments

With everybody focused on the Irish border, along comes Gibraltar's first minister Fabian Picardo to remind the world that the Rock is going to be an even harder problem. Picardo has grievances with both the UK and the EU, and both may end up in the courts.

On the EU side, Picardo considers it an affront that the EU's draft withdrawal agreement released last week includes the Spanish veto on Gibraltar's status, even as a footnote referring back to the EU Council's original negotiating guidelines last April. Recall that the guidelines said that a withdrawal agreement would only apply to Gibraltar if Spain and the UK agreed on it bilaterally first. Gibraltar argues that it cannot be excluded from the transition arrangements, because there should be a continuation of the EU's acquis which already applies to the Rock. The government of Gibraltar is willing to take the issue to the EU courts and has sought legal advice about it, reports El País. Not all is bad news about Gibraltar, though. There have been three technical meetings so far this year between Spain's foreign ministry and Gibraltar's government on various aspects of the future relation, including use of the airport, which the paper says have been going well. However, Spain has suggested it could veto the withdrawal agreement.

On the UK side, Picardo claimed at the end of January that section 47(3) of Gibraltar's constitution gives his government autonomy from the UK on areas other than foreign affairs, defence, internal security, and some public appointments. Picardo wants to interpret this as giving Gibraltar a veto over Brexit, which the UK government naturally denied insisting that the UK will negotiate as one and leave the EU as one. 

Going back to O'Grady's piece, he suggests that one solution to the Gibraltar issue would be to give the Rock membership of the Customs Union by special protocol, much like several European microstates such as Andorra, Monaco, San Marino, or the Vatican. However, the question is what Spain might demand from the UK in exchange for agreeing to this. And then it is not possible for Spain and the UK to agree a change of status for Gibraltar without the agreement of the Gibraltareans, who overwhelmingly want to remain British. Hence, two vetos to overcome.

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March 05, 2018

Rutte weighs in

Mark Rutte laid out his vision for the EU post-Brexit, and nine concrete proposals for EU reform. As several Dutch commentators point out, his intervention at the Bertelsmann foundation in Berlin comes not a minute too early as the approval by the SPD of the German grand coalition effectively signals that negotiations about EU reform can start in earnest. NRC's editorial warns, though, that EU cooperation is set to go into a higher gear and it would be best for the Netherlands to be a driver than a brake.

Rutte's proposals include the following:

  • transforming the ESM into an European Monetary Fund, with government debt restructuring as a condition of access to EU emergency funds;
  • more military cooperation but no EU army;
  • institutionalising the relocation of refugees, and stemming the flow of migrants through development cooperation with countries of origin;
  • a smaller EU budget after Brexit;
  • tying structural funds to economic reforms.

Rutte's vision is fully intergovernmental. The EU should go back to its origin as a partnership of sovereign states, and the fact that one state gets into trouble should not be an excuse for federalist integration. The states should not strive for an ever closer union as the treaty states, but for a more perfect EU that serves the states.

Is Rutte really ready to break with Germany? The grand coalition in Berlin is likely to agree with Emmanuel Macron's European agenda more than the Dutch would like to see. So will the Dutch start to look for new allies? Or do they hope to influence the German position?

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  • And now what Monsieur Fillion?
  • The inescapable logic of an interim agreement
  • On Germany's foreign policy post-Trump
  • How to lose against the populists
  • April 25, 2016
  • The death of the Grand Coalition
  • Insurrection against TTIP
  • Juppé to benefit from Macron hype
  • On optimal currency areas
  • Why the Artic region could be the next geopolitical troublespot
  • From a currency to a people
  • April 08, 2020
  • Is Greece ready for virus spread in migrant camps?
  • On the future of the EU - the final part 12 of our series
  • October 07, 2019
  • What did Conte know?
  • April 08, 2019
  • Welcome to the new Brexit grand coalition
  • Waiting for Macron's next move
  • October 08, 2018
  • A renewed willingness on both sides to cut a Brexit deal
  • Latvian politics in turmoil after huge populist gains
  • April 09, 2018
  • Orbán gets his supermajority
  • Riding the wave of resistance
  • The EU’s self-defeating strategy
  • October 09, 2017
  • UK is starting to prepare for a no-deal Brexit
  • Why Germany will resist meaningful eurozone reform
  • April 13, 2017
  • Did Russia influence the Brexit vote?
  • All good between Germany and the US now?
  • October 18, 2016
  • The self-destruction of Francois Hollande
  • Brexit psychotherapy
  • At least three candidates for the PvdA leadership
  • The unbelievable hypocrisy of Mario Monti
  • April 25, 2016
  • The death of the Grand Coalition
  • Insurrection against TTIP
  • Juppé to benefit from Macron hype
  • On optimal currency areas
  • Why the Artic region could be the next geopolitical troublespot
  • From a currency to a people
  • July 22, 2020
  • Why we don’t think this deal is historic
  • March 10, 2020
  • Virus math
  • October 29, 2019
  • People's Vote descends into Civil War
  • CDU at odds on dealing with extreme parties
  • June 19, 2019
  • What the US-Iran standoff tells us about the EU
  • Is Germany withholding information on right-wing extremism?
  • February 08, 2019
  • Macron turns stand-off with Italy into a game changer
  • Is there a strategic intent behind Macron's decision?
  • October 01, 2018
  • After the referendum, more turmoil in Macedonia
  • What will happen if the UK parliament votes No?
  • Barnier's no-thanks works much better than a yes-please
  • May 25, 2018
  • Rejected by US, Germany is turning towards China...
  • ...and France is turning to Russia
  • UK ties Galileo to security partnership
  • Germans are discovering miniBoTs
  • January 17, 2018
  • Labour smashes No Brexit dreams
  • A new political bargain in Portugal?
  • September 13, 2017
  • Why the Turkey negotiations will continue
  • May 10, 2017
  • PSOE primary campaign in full swing
  • Czech government crisis escalates
  • Backroom dealing on electoral reform in Italy
  • January 05, 2017
  • French Socialist primaries - old wine in new bottles
  • Le Pen's hard ecu
  • Will Tusk get a second mandate?
  • Themes of 2017
  • August 25, 2016
  • The costs of Brexit
  • Redefining corruption
  • Greek government shocked, shocked...
  • The costs of Brexit
  • Redefining corruption
  • Greek government shocked, shocked...
  • April 25, 2016
  • The death of the Grand Coalition
  • Insurrection against TTIP
  • Juppé to benefit from Macron hype
  • On optimal currency areas
  • Why the Artic region could be the next geopolitical troublespot
  • From a currency to a people
  • July 27, 2020
  • Germany is one of the most unequal countries in Europe
  • June 15, 2020
  • US and Germany step up fight over NordStream 2
  • Macron's agenda for the next two years
  • May 05, 2020
  • Germany's cash-for-clunkers
  • What about the summer holidays?
  • March 27, 2020
  • Watch out for the coalition of the south
  • The race to save jobs
  • February 19, 2020
  • Degrowth isn't enough to stem climate change
  • Is Renzi finished?
  • Welcome to Germany, Tesla
  • January 13, 2020
  • Libya - the new playground for diplomatic posturing
  • NI has a government at last
  • December 09, 2019
  • The next three days
  • November 04, 2019
  • Brexit tactical voting is happening - on both sides
  • Merkel promises 1m charging stations - but doesn't tell us how
  • September 30, 2019
  • A pyrrhic victory for Kurz
  • Will there really be UK elections?
  • August 27, 2019
  • Remain’s narrowing pathway
  • Macron's diplomatic masterstroke
  • July 25, 2019
  • What should the EU do now?
  • Could the grand coalition break down over defence spending?
  • June 25, 2019
  • What’s behind the dispute about Weber
  • May 27, 2019
  • The rising chances of a no-deal Brexit
  • April 29, 2019
  • Labour's national executive to vote on second referendum
  • What the debate about electric cars says about Germany
  • April 01, 2019
  • Meaningful IV
  • Caputová elected: a turning point for central Europe?
  • March 06, 2019
  • Weber toughens his stance against Orbán
  • The European loneliness of Emmanuel Macron
  • You really should not take EU's willingness to extend for granted
  • February 08, 2019
  • Macron turns stand-off with Italy into a game changer
  • Is there a strategic intent behind Macron's decision?
  • January 14, 2019
  • Our Brexit predictions
  • 1789 - Macron's version
  • Tsipras calls confidence vote after Kammenos pulls out
  • December 19, 2018
  • May’s strategy and the consequences of failure
  • Belgium loses its government
  • November 27, 2018
  • Responding to the yellow-vest protest
  • The New Hanseatic tensions are a foretaste of things to come
  • November 05, 2018
  • Macron trails behind Le Pen in European elections poll
  • How the CDU will organise leadership campaign
  • October 15, 2018
  • Black Brexit smoke
  • Bettel can relax and stay in office
  • Solving the crime vs solving the problem
  • September 25, 2018
  • Be careful what you wish for - second referendum edition
  • September 06, 2018
  • City of Frankfurt bans diesel
  • A fairytale meeting for Macron in Luxembourg
  • August 20, 2018
  • ... and a subtle shift in EU policies towards both Russia and Turkey
  • Nothing to celebrate about the end of the bailout programme
  • Support for Brexit holding up
  • July 20, 2018
  • Why preparations for no-deal Brexit are a positive development
  • On confirmation bias in the Brexit commentary
  • July 03, 2018
  • Some realism about tariffs
  • How the Brexit carousel has come full circle
  • June 18, 2018
  • Some thoughts on the future of Europe
  • The end of Spanish income moderation?
  • June 04, 2018
  • German discourse out of control
  • Wait for European disunity on US tariffs
  • May 22, 2018
  • A €60bn ESM credit line - is this what they call a backstop?
  • Will Nato survive Trump?
  • Northern Ireland's Brexit disillusion
  • Would Corbyn become prime minister if he accepted the single market?
  • May 10, 2018
  • Time for some clear thinking on Trump and Iran
  • Will Corbyn accept the EEA? Brexiteers can relax. He won't.
  • What next for the DUP?
  • April 30, 2018
  • Looming May protests against Macron
  • France has discovered the Laffer curve
  • An important resignation in the UK
  • April 20, 2018
  • Macron at home
  • EU has rejected all UK proposals on Northern Irish border
  • Could there be a Five Star-Forza Italia government?
  • April 11, 2018
  • Towards a Five Star-Lega government?
  • Why the eurozone, not a US-China trade war, is the main risk to the global economy
  • Brexit's effects on the relationship between Dublin and London
  • April 03, 2018
  • Is the time for Brexit revocation running out?
  • March 26, 2018
  • On the run no more
  • Terrorist attack will challenge Macron
  • A double-whammy of geopolitical and financial uncertainty
  • March 19, 2018
  • Waiting for Germany
  • Russia’s friends
  • Can the Commons force an extension of the Art 50 period?
  • March 12, 2018
  • German industry is starting to panic about Brexit
  • March 09, 2018
  • The Franco-German axis and its opponents
  • Auf Wiedersehen, Sigmar Gabriel!
  • March 07, 2018
  • The PD - so much like the SPD
  • Why the EU is right to blackball the City of London
  • Car companies don't deliver on diesel upgrades
  • March 06, 2018
  • Will Italy exit the eurozone? Of course not. But it's the wrong question.
  • Slovakia's political crisis
  • Are we heading for a trade war?
  • March 05, 2018
  • One rock, two vetos, three governments
  • Rutte weighs in