As Theresa May struggles to shove her 'best Brexit deal possible' down the throats of Tory lawmakers, across the English Channel, May's European colleagues are refining their own approach to the 'hard sell'. After chief EU negotiator Michel Barnier and German Chancellor Angela Merkel insisted on Thursday that the deal negotiations couldn't be reopened, Barnier took his threatening rhetoric one step further on Friday by warning that the UK could find itself cut off from European resources for combating serious security threats like terrorism.
According to the Financial Times, Barnier said during a meeting with ambassadors from the EU's 27 non-UK members earlier this week that the negotiations over the UK's desire to maintain access to the bloc's internal security database would be "difficult". A framework for these negotiations is expected to be included in the seven-page political statement that will sit alongside the formal 500-plus-page Brexit treaty, and serve as a foundation for negotiations during the transition. The political statement will effectively mark a starting point in negotiations surrounding everything from fisheries access to security to data protection to finance.
Barnier's made his threat as Scottish MPs warned that they would resist any attempt to remain a part of the Common Fisheries Policy, which sets quotas for each type of fish that EU fishermen are allowed to catch. Security cooperation has emerged as key sticking point in the negotiations; Barnier has said that no other country outside the Schengen free trade area receives the level of cooperation that the UK has demanded. Access to the security database has emerged as one of the "two serious problems" overshadowing negotiations over the text of the political statement, the other being access to EU markets.
Mr Barnier dismissed the UK’s demand to maintain access to the EU’s internal security system, including its passenger name recognition database, Europol and Eurojust. He said no other country outside the Schengen free travel area enjoyed such a level of access. “The UK does not accept all the consequences of its status as a third country”, Mr Barnier said, according to the note.
Diplomats said they expected a tough negotiation over the future relationship text, as EU governments seek to protect their key economic interests. These include future access to fishing waters for the likes of France, and demands that the UK cannot undercut EU standards for governments including Denmark and the Netherlands.
The political statement is expected to be finalized during negotiations on Saturday and Sunday. The statement is expected to be the key issue in negotiations ahead of the special UK-EU Brexit summit on Nov. 25, which could still be canceled if May cannot secure support for her deal. But by threatening the UK's access to information that could potentially help prevent terrorist attacks Barnier has made his position clear: The EU has already "bent over backwards" to accommodate the UK. Now, the Tories need to 'get on with it' and take the deal, or risk very serious real-world blowback.