Entente Cordiale?

he question of whom we are negotiating with over Brexit is a pertinent one. The factual answer is Michel Barnier who reports in to the European Council and its President Donald Tusk. However, it is the representatives (typically heads) of the member states who will make the decisions, and a qualified majority of 20 of them (65% of the total EU population) needs to approve it. However, beyond the facts, some members are inevitably more equal than others – the UK needs to focus on convincing both Germany and France, to which others are likely to align. Negotiating with her newly-formed coalition, with the centre-left SPD, is dominating Angela Merkel’s agenda at the moment and weakening her voice in Europe. Meanwhile, Macron is on a charm offensive, hosting 140 global business leaders this week. He has reached an accord with May over processing migrants in Calais. He has even shown some empathy for the UK’s position on Brexit, agreeing that France would have ‘probably’ also left the EU given the same vote. However, with the regard to the outcome of negotiations, he is unequivocal: ‘Except if you change your mind – you will not be part of the single market’.