German Intransigence

Last Tuesday, the British Parliament voted to send Prime Minister Theresa May back to Brussels to renegotiate the status of Great Britain’s Northern Ireland border with the Republic of Ireland, which is part of the Brit-EU exit agreement that the Parliament had earlier rejected.  The same day, the Parliament also rejected an attempt by Labour to delay by nine months the actual departure of Great Britain from the EU, leaving the date set at 29 March.

European Council President Donald Tusk said through his spokesman

The backstop is part of the Withdrawal Agreement, and the Withdrawal Agreement is not open for renegotiation.

That’s standard fare for the EU, which never has negotiated in good faith and which has all along faced a negotiator, in May, whose heart never has been in leaving the EU.

It’s Germany, though, that not only refuses outright to renegotiate a small aspect of that failed departure agreement, now is directly interfering in the domestic affairs of Great Britain.  The nature of the current “agreement” would

keep Northern Ireland (and by extension the UK) in the EU customs union in order to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland.

A hard departure would take all of Great Britain (and by extension Northern Ireland) out of the EU and its internal free trade/free movement of goods and people zone altogether.  That might necessitate customs checks and border entry stations.

Germany’s Foreign Minister Heiko Mass:

We will not allow Ireland to be isolated on this issue.

Never mind that the only ones isolating the Republic of Ireland on this issue are Germany and the EU.  It gets worse, though.  Jürgen Trittin, Co-Chairman of Germany’s Green Party’:

It’s clear that we won’t accept a militarized border in Ireland[.]

Leaving aside the cynically constructed straw man nature of this claim—no one is talking about militarizing any border, only of the possibility of setting up customs stations—whether Great Britain chooses to “militarize” any of its borders is strictly a domestic matter for the Brits to decide.  They cannot, after all, station troops anywhere along any of their borders except on their side of them.  Trittin knows this.  (Beyond that, this ban also is a blatant interference in the internal affairs of the Republic of Ireland for the same reason.)

Aside from that, Trittin’s bar would result in…what, exactly?  What does Germany, or the EU, propose to do were the Brits to decide to “militarize” its border with the Republic of Ireland?  What concrete steps is Germany implying it, or the EU, would take to enforce its bar on the “militarization?”

Plainly, it’s an empty threat, intended only to intimidate and, worse, to meddle in the internal affairs of a sovereign nation—and so vindicating that nation’s decision to leave such an entity as the EU.

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