Debate Magazine

Hollande - Not Very Good at Logic Or Negotiations.

Posted on the 21 July 2016 by Markwadsworth @Mark_Wadsworth

From the BBC:
French President Francois Hollande will tell Theresa May he wants to start talks on the UK's exit from the EU (1) as soon as possible, when they meet later. The UK's new prime minister has said she does not want to start the formal Brexit process until 2017.
But Mr Hollande has rejected any "pre-negotiations" (2) - and said the UK could not access the EU free market without accepting free movement of people(3).
... He said there should be no pre-negotiations before full and formal exit talks and added: "Access to the single market cannot be guaranteed unless free movement of workers is respected.(4)
... Pascal Lamy, a former World Trade Organization director general who was also chief of staff to ex-EU Commission president Jacques Delors, also said European leaders wanted to know what Mrs May was looking for. "What sort of relationship do you have in mind with the European Union?" he asked.(5)

1. He can speak for France but he does not speak for the EU as a whole.
2. If he wants talks to begin, then why would it matter whether they are "formal" (meaning that the UK has applied to leave under Article 50) or "pre-negotiations" (meaning it hasn't)?
3. Free movement of people is an EU obsession, but is quite a separate concept from free trade in goods or services, which in turn could be dealt with separately.
We have plenty of precedents, such as the customs union between the EU and Turkey:
Goods may travel between the two entities without any customs restrictions. The Customs Union does not cover essential economic areas such as agriculture (to which bilateral trade concessions apply), services or public procurement.
They also agreed to a common foreign tariff, which sort of makes sense. If Turkish import tariff for Chinese goods is lower than the EU tariff, then people in the EU would import Chinese goods via Turkey.
4. Real weasel words here. "[C]annot be guaranteed" is meaningless. A doctor cannot guarantee that a treatment will work, even though it usually does. "[U]nless free movement of workers is respected" is even vaguer. I can respect other people's places of worship and superstitions despite being an atheist who thinks it is all a load of cobblers and never takes part.
5. Lamy is not authorised to negotiate for the EU either. And I think the UK has made it pretty clear what it wants.

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