Despite Boris Johnson’s claims that the EU is inflexible, they have moved considerably to give him a deal.
If this recent movement towards a deal turns out to have just one benefit, it will surely be to demolish once and for all the myth of the European Union’s wilful inflexibility.
It seems obvious to me that it is in the nature of an association of 27 countries to be more unwieldy than a solitary nation, like an exiting UK: whereas one country will only have self-imposed red lines, which it is at liberty to remove at any moment, 27 nations which require rules to bind them into a confederation will always be wary of loosening those in case everything unravelled, and need time-consuming intergovernmental consultation to do so.
Having said that, the EU27 have always been as flexible as they could afford: They compromised heavily for Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement. For example, contrary to the lie that the right-wing press has been repeating for months, they resented the backstop too, simply because its automatic triggering at the end of the transition period would suddenly have exempted the UK from paying a customs union membership fee, a huge concession from them.
Boris Johnson would have you believe that he has made concessions to Leo Varadkar, but in fact his new proposals entail concessions from the EU.
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