1 Finally the EU and Great Britain reached a last minute agreement setting the criteria to allow the access of British products to the continental market from January 1st. The Commission has already published the first official documents. And it can already be said that, despite Johnson’s triumphalism and Merkel and Macron’s optimism, the agreement saves both parties’ day without fulfilling the goals of any… especially the British.
There will be no tariffs or quotas, granted, and the free movement of persons and the automatic recognition of diplomas and professional qualifications will come to an end. But the British will have to comply with EU regulations in order to sell on the continental market and accept a minimum level of environmental, social and labor standards – presumably slightly lower than those of the EU – below which competition would be considered unbalanced. In order to prevent Great Britain from interpreting in its own way how seriously these minimums should be met in its legislation, a supervisory body and a dispute resolution mechanism have been set up. There is, however, one more concession from Brussels: the corrections that this body would impose will be after the fact. Great Britain will be able to give all the subsidies it wants without having to go through a European filter… although it will have to fight the EU later. The biggest concessions, of course, will come from the City of London. The so-called financial industry will have to move part of its activity to EU soil or it will be treated as an external financial centre. And, British concession, the agreement will be reviewed in four years.
The agreement is rather a truce than anything else, as it can be seen today in the Irish press. Both the Republican and the Unionist parties welcome the agreement as a lesser evil. The Republican pacifists of the SDLP join Sinn Fein’s idea that Brexit marks the opening of a new phase that will end with a referendum on reunification. Unionists complain about customs bureaucracy and the imposition of a border in the North Sea. In Scotland, Sturgeon grumbles but is careful to remove any mention of independence in her response, she knows that Scottish industries are happy with the agreement and keeps the artillery for later.
2 In Spain, the King’s Christmas Eve speech had raised expectations of some kind of concession in the form of a household code of ethics or some similar arrangement that could be equally beneficial to Catalan independentists, Podemists, Ciudadanos and regenerationists alike. Obviously, they were disappointed to the same extent as the mediums of the deep state were satisfied with the three messages launched by the monarch: that he would clean the mess left by his father so that the business court should not fear being called into question by past complicities, that it is necessary to save the big companies with European funds, to give economic prominence to the petty bourgeoisie and to do something about the statistics of youth unemployment and precariousness… we already know what this something means, because in the end, the speech was supervised and completed by the Spanish government. Nothing new except the observation that the petty-bourgeois revolt, which only three years ago endangered the state, has dissolved into more and more ethereal demands while still being reactionary and aimless. From independence and participatory democracy they have passed to emphasize the transparency of the royal family, from highfaluting proclamations to the petty exegesis of royal discourses.