EU Negotiating Intransigence Always Precedes a Flip-Flop

The British commentariat has for the past three years delighted in reporting EU negotiating position as if it is an immovable object, the revealed gospel itself. That’s not what their track record in major negotiations suggests…

In 2010 it was almost universally received wisdom in the media and markets that there would be no Greek bailout. All the top figures vigorously denied it was even a possibility, as the Maastricht Treaty specifically precluded such a rescue package. As the EU kept reminding us…

  • The European Central Bank’s chief economist Jurgen Stark said that Greece does not meet the terms for a bailout, and that “The Treaties set out a ‘no bail-out’ clause, and the rules will be respected. This is crucial for guaranteeing the future of a monetary union.”
  • European Monetary Affairs Commissioner Joaquin Almunia insisted there was “no special EU plan for Greece”
  • Angela Merkel said “We have a Treaty under which there is no possibility of paying to bail out states.”

Of course, later in 2010, Greece received €310 billion in bailout money, despite that being illegal under treaty…

Guido would gently suggest to political pundits that negotiations are negotiations, and portraying the word of one side as if it is the word of the almighty, especially in the context of a contradictory track record, is beyond daft. The EU claims that the backstop is unlikely to come into play, so a time limit on something that is unlikely to happen is not a reason for the EU to force a disorderly Brexit. The EU consistently bends the rules when they come under pressure…

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