The European Union boasts 24 official languages. This may help explain how everyone has been talking past each other since June 23, 2016, when the U.K. voted to leave the European Union and created the hardest translation job in the history of the EU: how to say “Brexit” in a way explicable to everyone, when it is not even explicable by its own creators. Suffice it to say, in spite of all of the warm and happy words about progress and confidence over the last several months, there has been and is none of either, and Brussels is buying neither Britain’s dead-letter Brexit plan nor its tough-guy act.
On the face of it, negotiators are advancing toward an agreement that must be settled, drafted and ratified before Britain leaves the bloc next March 29. In reality, progress toward a deal has been minimal since April….
Behind the scenes, however, many in the EU say Mrs. May’s proposal—which aims to give British firms frictionless access to the EU market in goods—is unacceptable.
They see it as undermining the bloc’s own outstanding economic achievement: its single market in goods, services, labor and capital. They say Mrs. May’s plan would allow Britain to become a giant assembly plant for Chinese and other non-EU manufacturers with privileged access to the bloc’s 500 million people….
People involved in the talks say negotiations remain tense, with misunderstandings causing occasional flare-ups and each party thinking the other is misreading its genuine red lines.
Like this one:
European officials, for their part, think Mrs. May still hasn’t grasped the long-term existential threat to the EU they see in allowing Britain frictionless access to the single market without taking on obligations, such as the free movement of workers, that other EU members have to accept.
With Brussels battling increasingly antagonistic governments in the east and south of the bloc, officials fear that outcome would eventually encourage other countries to leave.
In fairness to Theresa May, though, she, her party and her country (in order of importance to her) are also suffering through an existential crisis they don’t fully grasp.