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Category Archives: The EU

Three messages from the Withdrawal Agreement

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Yesterday’s publication of the provisional final text of the Withdrawal Agreement (and associated Political Declaration) marks a crucial point in the process of Brexit, opening the door to an approval and ratification process and the first major step in establishing a new basis for UK-EU relations. Weighing in at nearly 600 pages of text, it’s […]

Getting ahead of ourselves

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It’s a mark of the quality of the public Brexit debate that the title of this post could refer to pretty much any aspect of the negotiations to date: the mixture of ignorance, indifference and confusion has produced more than its fair share of mistimings and incorrect sequencings. But today I’d like indulge in my […]

The pros and cons of a longer transition

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So, no breakthrough, but also no collapse. Not the most ringing endorsement for yesterday’s European Council discussion on Article 50, but given the possible alternatives, certainly not the worst it could have been. Still the focus remains on the backstop for Ireland. Usefully, we might remember that this backstop has become an issue for two, […]

Cui malum?

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It’s crunch time in Art.50. Or, at least, a crunch time. Rather than try to follow the individual twists and turns, many of which aren’t in the public gaze just yet, I’d like to step back and consider an environmental factor to these negotiations, namely who carries the cost. As I’ve discussed before, Brexit is […]

Brussels, not Birmingham

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I’ll be frank with you: I’ve never done a full party conference. Some fringe activities, yes, but not the whole shebang. Indeed, the nearest I’ve got is the pile of DVDs of an early 2000s UKIP conference, back when I worked more on euroscepticism (and when UKIP sold DVDs of their conference). This is all […]

Tell me what you want, what you really, really want

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A fundament of negotiation – and indeed of politics – is the notion of interaction. They are necessarily relational constructs: us and them, me fighting the system, let’s work it out together. If politics can be about an agent’s interaction with a set of societal values rather than any one individual or group, the negotiation […]

On being open (or closed)

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As we await the verdict of tomorrow’s European Council on the move to Phase 2, it’s perhaps useful to reflect on the decision-making style of Theresa May. Last night provided a vivid illustration of this, with the amendment to the Withdrawal Bill, which provides Parliament with a vote on the final deal. We might discuss on another […]

The negative-sum game of Brexit

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As we roll around to a new round of Article 50 negotiations, it’s perhaps useful to revisit another key structural dimension of this process. Negotiation theory spends a lot of time trying to educate users into the language of positive-sum games. Those inexperienced in such things typically see negotiations as zero-sum: your loss is my […]

Running down the clock as a strategy in Article 50

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As we all wait with baited breath – possibly – for Theresa May’s Florence speech, I’d like to explore one aspect of Article 50 that’s been visible but somewhat under-considered: the time constraint. Having talked with various people in Brussels and London in recent weeks, I’ve been struck by how time is seen both as a help […]

The great and the good of Brexit

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I’m just back from the UACES conference in Krakow, which was filled – like last year’s – with much talk of Brexit. I came away 12 months ago with a lot to get out of my system (here and here), but this time I am filled more with weariness: 90% of what I wrote 12 months ago still applies. […]

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