Mittwoch 22. November 2017, 11:43

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EU vs. UK: Viel Vergnügen, Misses May!

Jetzt wird’s also ernst.  Mit einem sechsseitigen Brief an EU-Ratspräsident Donald Tusk hat die britische Premierministerin offiziell  die Scheidung von der Europäischen Union eingereicht. Theresa May hat sich in den Kopf gesetzt,  auf Grund des irrwitzigen Referendums vom 23. Juni 2016 die 44 Jahre währende Partnerschaft des Königreichs mit Brüssel eisern zu beenden. Damit startet nach einer Schrecksekunde von neun Monaten endlich ein ebenso dramatischer wie langwieriger Prozess, der im  „Standard“ als „Jahrhundertmatch um die Zukunft Europas“ bezeichnet wurde.

Kommt es zur „schmutzigen Scheidung“?
Kommt es zur „schmutzigen Scheidung“?
Bild: © EU-Infothek

Eines steht vorab  bereits fest: Es wird letztlich keine Win-win-Situation, also keinen Sieger geben, sondern allseits lediglich Verlierer. Ob die abtrünnige Insel Ihrer Majestät, die es im Worst Case sogar in ihre Bestandteile zerreißen könnte, den größeren Schaden verkraften wird müssen, oder ob die 27 verbleibenden EU-Mitgliedsstaaten am Ende des Tages die größeren Loser sein werden, steht vorerst in den Sternen. Diese Frage ist vom Ergebnis  der mit Sicherheit brutalen Verhandlungen zwischen den beiden Lagern abhängig.

Auch wenn in London noch weit und breit  nichts von einer cleveren Austrittsstrategie zu bemerken ist - zeichnet sich zumindest eines deutlich ab: ein harter Brexit, also ein möglichst radikaler Schnitt soll es allemal werden. Großbritannien will sich - derzeit sozusagen ohne Rücksicht auf Verluste jeglicher Art - beispielsweise vom Binnenmarkt vertschüssen, von der Zollunion nichts mehr wissen und mit dem Europäischen Gerichtshof nichts mehr zu tun haben. Die britische Regierung, für die eine wieder gewonnene Souveränität mehr zu zählen scheint als alles andere, brocken der ohnedies krisengebeutelten Union ein gigantisches Problem ein:

Großbritannien, weltweit die sechstgrößte Volkswirtschaft sowie eine wichtige Militärmacht in  Europa, die auch im UN-Sicherheitsrat sitzt,  ist immerhin mit rund zehn Milliarden Euro der zweitgrößte Nettozahler  und steht derzeit noch für fast ein Fünftel des EU-Budgets.  Mit 64 Millionen Konsumenten  - was nahezu einem Achtel der EU-Bevölkerung entspricht - ist das Königreich ein praktisch unersetzlicher  Handels- und Wirtschaftspartner der Kontinental-Europäer,  und zum Drüberstreuen brachte es seinen Status als Atommacht und Nato-Mitglied ein.  Die selbstbewussten  Briten haben jahrelang und gar nicht so erfolglos um eine Sonderbehandlung gekämpft, was der übrigen EU-Familie zeitweise enorm auf den Geist gegangen ist. Jetzt, da der endgültige Bruch  Ende März 2019 vollzogen werden soll, wird der zweifellos schmerzhafte Ausstieg sowohl mit weinenden als auch mit lachenden Augen quittiert.

Es könnte blöd laufen…

Während am einen - dem eher pessimistischen - Ende des Meinungsspektrums etwa gerne beklagt wird, dass der britische Exodus durchaus Nachahmer finden und somit den Exitus der Europäischen Union einläuten könnte, wird die höchst unangenehme künftige Trennung in  - eher optimistischen - Extrempositionen  am liebsten cool verharmlost: In diversen Postings  auf der „Standard“-Homepage heißt es beispielsweise „Die EU baucht die Briten nicht - wozu?“ oder „Sie werden keinem abgehen“ oder „Um die Briten ist wahrlich nicht schade“. Viele Beobachter aus der so genannten breiten Masse finden an der Prognose gefallen, dass es Großbritannien in absehbarer Zeit nicht nur politisch zerreißen wird - Stichwort: Schottland und Nordirland - , sondern auch wirtschaftlich zerlegen.

In der Tat avisierte sogar der konservative Schatzkanzler Philip Hammond bereits drohende Troubles: Das Wirtschaftswachstum werde bis 2020  um 2,4 Prozent geringer ausfallen als prognostiziert. Die Regierung müsse deshalb die Wirtschaft mit einem Investitionsprogramm in Höhe von 20 Milliarden Pfund ankurbeln, das dem Bahn-, Straßen- und Wohnbau zugute kommen soll. Das Budgetdefizit und die Staatsschulden werden automatisch erhöht,  Ziele wie Nulldefizit und Schuldenabbau hingegen vergessen. Um den Brexit halbwegs professionell abzuwickeln, werden in den Londoner Ministerien mindestens 30.000 weitere Beamte benötigt. Es geht u. a. darum, missliebige EU-Vorschriften mit Hilfe eines Aufhebungsgesetzes (Great Repeal Bill) zu streichen, aber auch rund 17.000 EU-Verordnungen in britisches Recht umzuwandeln, um ein juristisches Chaos zu verhindern. Schließlich müssen 43 Freihandelsabkommen neu verhandelt werden, was unter Umständen, also wenn’s blöd läuft, in Einzelfällen bis zu zehn Jahren dauern und die britische Wirtschaft in die Verzweiflung treiben könnte.

Die Annahme, dass es für Theresa May & Co. tatsächlich blöd laufen könnte, ist nicht von der Hand zu weisen: Dass es die EU Großbritannien alles andere als leicht machen wird,  lässt sich an ihrer gerüchteweise bereits durchgedrungenen Forderung im Ausmaß von bis zu 60 Milliarden Euro ableiten.  Das ist jenes Sümmchen, das London der EU als Fort- oder Ausgleichszahlungen für eingegangene Verpflichtungen schulden soll. Man kann  Gift drauf nehmen, dass in den kommenden Monaten vorrangig um diesen  Betrag gerangelt werden wird. Garantie genug, dass es - wie das deutsche „Manager Magazin“ prophezeit - zu einer „schmutzigen Scheidung“ kommen wird. Die große Frage wird sein, wer letztlich am längeren Ast sitzt? Die geeint auftretenden EU-27, die nach der Devise „EU first - Great Britain second“ agieren werden müssen und den Briten absolut keine Zugeständnisse machen können? Oder Misses May, die allen Ernstes gemeint hat, dass „ein schlechter Deal besser als gar kein Deal“ sei und folglich nicht einsehen mag, dass die britische Wirtschaft schweren Schaden erleiden würde, falls es zu keiner gütlichen Einigung über einen geregelten Austritt kommen sollte.

EU mit harter Tour

Die EU-Chefverhandler rund um Michel Barnier und Guy Verhofstadt werden - abgesehen vom finanziellen Druck - den Kontrahenten aus dem Königreich ihre Strategie aufzwingen:  Zunächst  wird es also um die Trennungsmodalitäten gehen, und  erst  wenn das unter Dach und Fach  ist, werde man über die künftigen Handelsbeziehungen verhandeln. In diesem Konnex sollte man den Briten klarmachen, dass es für sie keinen Binnenmarkt à la Carte geben kann und dass bilaterale Verhandlungen mit einzelnen Staaten tabu sein müssen.  May, die in ihrem Brief an Tusk (siehe Kasten unten) gleich in mehreren Passagen darauf Wert legte, dass sogleich über die gemeinsame Zukunft geredet werden müsse, wird folglich wohl eine herbe Enttäuschung erleben - und Geduld haben müssen.

Das dürfte freilich nicht die einzige Enttäuschung bleiben: Nach heutiger Einschätzung der Lage und im Hinblick auf die beiderseits von Frust geprägten sturen Grundpositionen scheint eine Einigung bis März 2019 kaum möglich zu sein. Die Premierministerin, die bisweilen einen ähnlich ahnungslosen Eindruck wie Donald Trump vermittelt,  wird in diesem durchaus nicht absurden Szenario garantiert  rettungslos hilflos sein - dies umso mehr, falls sich die Briten eingedenk eines fallenden Pfund-Kurses, steigender Preise, zunehmender Arbeitslosigkeit und manch anderer Probleme massenhaft gegen sie auflehnen sollten. In die Geschichte eingehen wird Theresa May, so oder so. Im Moment kann man ihr nur viel Vergnügen für die  nächsten Monate wünschen - und rätseln, was passiert, wenn alle Stricke reißen sollten. Übrigens: Die nächsten britischen Unterhauswahlen finden spätestens 2020 statt…

 

THERESA MAY’S ABSCHIEDSBRIEF AN EU-RATSPRÄSIDENT DONALD TUSK

Im Wortlaut:

Dear President Tusk

On 23 June last year, the people of the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union. As I have said before, that decision was no rejection of the values we share as fellow Europeans. Nor was it an attempt to do harm to the European Union or any of the remaining member states. On the contrary, the United Kingdom wants the European Union to succeed and prosper. Instead, the referendum was a vote to restore, as we see it, our national self-determination. We are leaving the European Union, but we are not leaving Europe – and we want to remain committed partners and allies to our friends across the continent.

Earlier this month, the United Kingdom Parliament confirmed the result of the referendum by voting with clear and convincing majorities in both of its Houses for the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill. The Bill was passed by Parliament on 13 March and it received Royal Assent from Her Majesty The Queen and became an Act of Parliament on 16 March.

Today, therefore, I am writing to give effect to the democratic decision of the people of the United Kingdom. I hereby notify the European Council in accordance with Article 50 (2) of the Treaty on European Union of the United Kingdom’s intention to withdraw from the European Union. In addition, in accordance with the same Article 50(2) as applied by Article 106a of the Treaty Establishing the European Atomic Energy Community, I hereby notify the European Council of the United Kingdom’s intention to withdraw from the European Atomic Energy Community. References in this letter to the European Union should therefore be taken to include a reference to the European Atomic Energy Community.

This letter sets out the approach of Her Majesty’s Government to the discussions we will have about the United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union and about the deep and special partnership we hope to enjoy – as your closest friend and neighbour – with the European Union once we leave. We believe that these objectives are in the interests not only of the United Kingdom but of the European Union and the wider world too.

It is in the best interests of both the United Kingdom and the European Union that we should use the forthcoming process to deliver these objectives in a fair and orderly manner, and with as little disruption as possible on each side. We want to make sure that Europe remains strong and prosperous and is capable of projecting its values, leading in the world, and defending itself from security threats. We want the United Kingdom, through a new deep and special partnership with a strong European Union, to play its full part in achieving these goals. We therefore believe it is necessary to agree the terms of our future partnership alongside those of our withdrawal from the European Union.

The Government wants to approach our discussions with ambition, giving citizens and businesses in the United Kingdom and the European Union – and indeed from third countries around the world – as much certainty as possible, as early as possible.

I would like to propose some principles that may help to shape our coming discussions, but before I do so, I should update you on the process we will be undertaking at home, in the United Kingdom.

The process in the United Kingdom

As I have announced already, the Government will bring forward legislation that will repeal the Act of Parliament – the European Communities Act 1972 – that gives effect to EU law in our country. This legislation will, wherever practical and appropriate, in effect convert the body of existing European Union law (the “acquis”) into UK law. This means there will be certainty for UK citizens and for anybody from the European Union who does business in the United Kingdom. The Government will consult on how we design and implement this legislation, and we will publish a White Paper tomorrow. We also intend to bring forward several other pieces of legislation that address specific issues relating to our departure from the European Union, also with a view to ensuring continuity and certainty, in particular for businesses. We will of course continue to fulfil our responsibilities as a member state while we remain a member of the European Union, and the legislation we propose will not come into effect until we leave.

From the start and throughout the discussions, we will negotiate as one United Kingdom, taking due account of the specific interests of every nation and region of the UK as we do so. When it comes to the return of powers back to the United Kingdom, we will consult fully on which powers should reside in Westminster and which should be devolved to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. But it is the expectation of the Government that the outcome of this process will be a significant increase in the decision-making power of each devolved administration.

Negotiations between the United Kingdom and the European Union

The United Kingdom wants to agree with the European Union a deep and special partnership that takes in both economic and security cooperation. To achieve this, we believe it is necessary to agree the terms of our future partnership alongside those of our withdrawal from the EU.

If, however, we leave the European Union without an agreement the default position is that we would have to trade on World Trade Organisation terms. In security terms a failure to reach agreement would mean our cooperation in the fight against crime and terrorism would be weakened. In this kind of scenario, both the United Kingdom and the European Union would of course cope with the change, but it is not the outcome that either side should seek. We must therefore work hard to avoid that outcome.

It is for these reasons that we want to be able to agree a deep and special partnership, taking in both economic and security cooperation, but it is also because we want to play our part in making sure that Europe remains strong and prosperous and able to lead in the world, projecting its values and defending itself from security threats. And we want the United Kingdom to play its full part in realising that vision for our continent.

Proposed principles for our discussions

Looking ahead to the discussions which we will soon begin, I would like to suggest some principles that we might agree to help make sure that the process is as smooth and successful as possible.

—  We should engage with one another constructively and respectfully, in a spirit of sincere cooperation. Since I became Prime Minister of the United Kingdom I have listened carefully to you, to my fellow EU Heads of Government and the Presidents of the European Commission and Parliament. That is why the United Kingdom does not seek membership of the single market: we understand and respect your position that the four freedoms of the single market are indivisible and there can be no “cherry picking”. We also understand that there will be consequences for the UK of leaving the EU: we know that we will lose influence over the rules that affect the European economy. We also know that UK companies will, as they trade within the EU, have to align with rules agreed by institutions of which we are no longer a part – just as UK companies do in other overseas markets.

—  We should always put our citizens first. There is obvious complexity in the discussions we are about to undertake, but we should remember that at the heart of our talks are the interests of all our citizens. There are, for example, many citizens of the remaining member states living in the United Kingdom, and UK citizens living elsewhere in the European Union, and we should aim to strike an early agreement about their rights.

—  We should work towards securing a comprehensive agreement. We want to agree a deep and special partnership between the UK and the EU, taking in both economic and security cooperation. We will need to discuss how we determine a fair settlement of the UK’s rights and obligations as a departing member state, in accordance with the law and in the spirit of the United Kingdom’s continuing partnership with the EU. But we believe it is necessary to agree the terms of our future partnership alongside those of our withdrawal from the EU.

—  We should work together to minimise disruption and give as much certainty as possible. Investors, businesses and citizens in both the UK and across the remaining 27 member states – and those from third countries around the world – want to be able to plan. In order to avoid any cliff-edge as we move from our current relationship to our future partnership, people and businesses in both the UK and the EU would benefit from implementation periods to adjust in a smooth and orderly way to new arrangements. It would help both sides to minimise unnecessary disruption if we agree this principle early in the process.

—  In particular, we must pay attention to the UKs unique relationship with the Republic of Ireland and the importance of the peace process in Northern Ireland. The Republic of Ireland is the only EU member state with a land border with the United Kingdom. We want to avoid a return to a hard border between our two countries, to be able to maintain the Common Travel Area between us, and to make sure that the UK’s withdrawal from the EU does not harm the Republic of Ireland. We also have an important responsibility to make sure that nothing is done to jeopardise the peace process in Northern Ireland, and to continue to uphold the Belfast Agreement.

—  We should begin technical talks on detailed policy areas as soon as possible, but we should prioritise the biggest challenges. Agreeing a high-level approach to the issues arising from our withdrawal will of course be an early priority. But we also propose a bold and ambitious Free Trade Agreement between the United Kingdom and the European Union. This should be of greater scope and ambition than any such agreement before it so that it covers sectors crucial to our linked economies such as financial services and network industries. This will require detailed technical talks, but as the UK is an existing EU member state, both sides have regulatory frameworks and standards that already match. We should therefore prioritise how we manage the evolution of our regulatory frameworks to maintain a fair and open trading environment, and how we resolve disputes. On the scope of the partnership between us – on both economic and security matters – my officials will put forward detailed proposals for deep, broad and dynamic cooperation.

We should continue to work together to advance and protect our shared European values. Perhaps now more than ever, the world needs the liberal, democratic values of Europe. We want to play our part to ensure that Europe remains strong and prosperous and able to lead in the world, projecting its values and defending itself from security threats.

The task before us

As I have said, the Government of the United Kingdom wants to agree a deep and special partnership between the UK and the EU, taking in both economic and security cooperation. At a time when the growth of global trade is slowing and there are signs that protectionist instincts are on the rise in many parts of the world, Europe has a responsibility to stand up for free trade in the interest of all our citizens. Likewise, Europe’s security is more fragile today than at any time since the end of the Cold War. Weakening our cooperation for the prosperity and protection of our citizens would be a costly mistake. The United Kingdom’s objectives for our future partnership remain those set out in my Lancaster House speech of 17 January and the subsequent White Paper published on 2 February.

We recognise that it will be a challenge to reach such a comprehensive agreement within the two-year period set out for withdrawal discussions in the Treaty. But we believe it is necessary to agree the terms of our future partnership alongside those of our withdrawal from the EU. We start from a unique position in these discussions – close regulatory alignment, trust in one another’s institutions, and a spirit of cooperation stretching back decades. It is for these reasons, and because the future partnership between the UK and the EU is of such importance to both sides, that I am sure it can be agreed in the time period set out by the Treaty.

The task before us is momentous but it should not be beyond us. After all, the institutions and the leaders of the European Union have succeeded in bringing together a continent blighted by war into a union of peaceful nations, and supported the transition of dictatorships to democracy. Together, I know we are capable of reaching an agreement about the UK’s rights and obligations as a departing member state, while establishing a deep and special partnership that contributes towards the prosperity, security and global power of our continent.

Yours sincerely

Theresa May

 




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