On the diplomatic fallout of Seehofer's Brexit letter
Frankfurter Allgemeine renders a wonderful anecdote about the diplomatic fallout of Horst Seehofer's Brexit letter, in which he warned that Brexit must under no circumstance lead to a deterioration of security co-operation with the UK. Lives would be at stake otherwise, he wrote. German diplomats were busy trying not to undermine the most powerful minister in Angela Merkel's government, and yet stick to the position Merkel agreed to in the European Council.
This debate matters because it shows that the overt unity of the European Council in respect of Brexit is not for real. In view of our discussion in the story above, the consequences of a hard Brexit have not yet fully filtered through to EU member states. There are not only security concerns, but also massive commercial interests at stake. The car industry could find itself exposed to a 20% US tariff on cars in the autumn, and a 10% tariff by the UK in April. The idea that Merkel and her friends in the European Council can ignore this pressure just to keep alive the purity of the single market is plainly ludicrous in our view - an expression we tend to reserve for special occasions.
In the case of Seehofer's letter the paper quotes the head of the political department at Germany's permanent representation in Brussels, who pointed out in a letter to a Commission official that Seehofer's position contradicted the position taken by the European Council, to which the German government remains committed. The article also had fun with the comments of a government spokeswoman who had trouble defending the government's position on the European Council guidelines without denouncing Seehofer.