Talks Drag On

Brexit talks unexpectedly dragged on today. France and Poland have dug in their heels on UK concessions. To top things off, Greece threatens an outright veto unless it gets its way on border issues.

UK prime minister had to postpone a meeting with his ministers set for today while chancellor Angela Merkel took a break to eat Belgian fries.

Digging In

The Financial Times reports Talks Drag on as France and Poland Dig In.

David Cameron’s summit battle for a “new settlement” for Britain in the EU is set to stretch into Friday night, forcing the prime minister to postpone an expected cabinet meeting to launch a June referendum.

With France and Poland still digging in over financial regulation and migrant benefit reforms, diplomats are bracing for a potentially long evening of tense negotiations to finalise the details of the package.
Mr Hollande said he was still not prepared to sign a deal that would give David Cameron his long-sought renegotiated relationship with the EU, saying leaders “still have work to do” despite all-night talks aimed at striking a compromise.

The French president said compromises aimed at resolving Paris’s concerns that the accord could still enable the City of London evade some EU financial rules.

Mr Cameron’s insistence that the “emergency brake” for controlling welfare payments should be applicable for a long period — the prime minister suggested a maximum of 13 years — remains a sticking point, as do planned curbs to the payment of child benefit to migrant workers whose children live in their home country.

Alexis Tsipras, the Greek prime minister, is threatening to veto a UK deal unless all EU leaders commit to keeping borders open until a March 6 emergency summit with Turkey.

Mr Cameron is resigned to losing one of his key allies, Michael Gove, to the Out camp, whatever the deal, while the chances of support from Boris Johnson, London mayor, are deemed to be no better than 50/50.

Merkel Takes Break for Fries

Highlighting the seriousness of the negotiations Merkel Takes Time Out From EU `Brexit’ Summit for Belgian Fries.

What does the world’s most powerful woman do when she’s had enough of talking?

If you’re Angela Merkel and it’s the second day of an interminable European Union summit, you put on your jacket, abandon the limousine and head out for some fries.

Brussels has no shortage of fancy restaurants for the EU lawmakers and officials on expense accounts, but it’s famous for its fries. The German chancellor stepped out with her security detail and made a beeline for Maison Antoine, an open-air stall that’s among the Belgian capital’s most celebrated purveyors of “frites.”

As James Mates, Europe Editor for ITV News, said in a tweet posted with a picture of Merkel with her fries: “Breakfast? Cancelled. Lunch? Abandoned. Dinner? Not till 8, if at all. So Angela Merkel heads out for chips.”

Bad Deal or No Deal

There is no way Cameron can secured a good deal for the UK. Even if he gets a 13-year commitment, what then? And Hollande is bound and determined to make the UK abide by whatever arcane financial rules the EU dreams up.

What the hell is Greece up to, insisting on open borders? Tspiras is outright crazy.

Perhaps these negotiations fail after all. But don’t count on it. History suggests Cameron will cave in. The deal has already been watered down to no binding enforcement mechanisms, just promises.

Greetings From Death Valley

I am in Death Valley for a super-bloom following late winter and early spring rains. This happens every 10-15 years or so. Strong winds the other night knocked out internet and phone service where I am staying. I am typing from a bar 17 miles away. I may be late approving comments. Posting may be erratic for a while.

Mike “Mish’ Shedlock