17/03/2017 Politics Europe

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Andrew Neil with the latest news from Europe, including interviews with MEPs, reports from the European Parliament and a guide to the inner workings of the European Union.

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Hello, and welcome to Politics Europe, your regular guide to the


top stories in Brussels and Strasbourg. On today's programme,


the bill allowing Theresa are made to trigger Article 50 is now a law.


What will be the next move? How will the EU respond? The head of the EU


Commission unveils his blueprint for the EU without Britain. The European


Court of Justice rules companies can ban workers from wearing a


headscarf. Have people given in the religious discrimination? And waking


up is not always easy to do. What can Czechoslovakia's velvet divorce


tell us about Brexit? All of that to come and more in the next half-hour.


First, our guide to the latest from Europe in just 60 seconds. The Dutch


Prime Minister, Mark Rutte, celebrated victory in his country's


election, easily defeating Geert Wilders. And there was a diplomatic


row with Turkey and Germany. We will never accept a comparison between


the Nazis and the current government. The European Court of


Human Rights ruled that Hungary unlawfully kept two migrants in a


transit zone. The Spanish Foreign Minister says an independent


Scotland will have to join the back of the queue for EU membership.


Spain's government is worried about the separatist movement in


Catalonia. The highest court in the EU rules that companies can ban


scarves on employees. All employees have to dress neutrally. I am joined


by the UKIP and Conservative MPs. Let us look at the EU ruling. On


headscarves. What do you think about there? It brings it broadly in line


with the UK government, as far as I can work out. You cannot ask a mate


with one culture or at religion. You have to look at all equally. --


discriminate. Theresa May said she disapproves at PMQs. She said women


have a right to choose how they dress. That is not what the ruling


is saying. She is saying she wants to legislate on how people are


wearing their clothes. And that is right, but all should be treated


equally and fairly. What do you think? We should not be under the


jurisdiction of them. Yeah, I got that bit. It is fraught with


difficulties. First of all, should a company have a dress code? That is


not an unreasonable thing. This is difficult. It means you cannot wear


skull caps, Sikh turbans, Christian crosses. What is more pertinent is


that you have a covering law for face coverings. You have made an


interesting point, can Sikhs not wear their turbans? Not at all. It


is giving power to companies to treat all employees fairly. If it


said no religious symbols at all of any kind, would that... Would the


Sikhs then be in trouble? As I understand it, the turban is part of


a religious manifestation for them. They have to justify very clearly


why they have made this decision, and if they cannot, then they cannot


impose it. An interesting development. We will see what the


courts make of it. A lot of the judgement at the end said the


details need to be sorted out at a national and local level. Yesterday,


the bill enabling Theresa May to activate Article 50 which will allow


England to leave the EU got a royal admission. That means they could


trigger it at the end of the month. What will happen next? Donald Tusk


said the EU will need just 48 hours to respond to the UK with draft


guidelines and negotiation. He also said an extraordinary meeting of the


EU 27, the EU without the United Kingdom, will take base in April,


possibly May, when European leaders will decide a guideline for the


negotiating mandate. Only once it is agreed will the official


negotiations began, maybe sometime in June or July. Lots of elections


getting in the way of this in Europe. The bill above will be top


priorities. Both sides need an agreement by October, 2018. Angus


Robertson said that. That will leave enough time for the UK and European


parliaments to sign off on the terms of the deal. European talks often go


well beyond their deadline, of course. If there is no agreement,


there is a chance that Britain could, to use the vernacular, "crash


out" of the EU. And this man said there was no assessment to his


satisfaction. Donald Tusk addressed the issue when he addressed the


European Parliament on Wednesday. I want to be clear that and no deal


scenario would be bad for everyone. -- A. But above all for the UK. It


would leave a number of issues unresolved. We will not be


intimidated by the rats. And I can assure you they were not work. --


threats. Our goal is to have a smooth divorce and a good framework


for the future. And it is good to know that Prime Minister Theresa May


shares this view. Are you surprised, does it matter, that the government,


given that it said this could be an option, that no deal would be better


than a bad deal, has no sort of game plan what no deal would mean? I...


You talked about WTO terms. The big issue is about trade. There is no


way you will unravel tens of thousands of EU laws before leaving.


But on trade, if they just need to be made a single offer that means


they could have continued tariff free trade with goods and service


and capital, but no people, because of... The WTO does not govern this.


No, it doesn't, but we could offer them that option. It would be in


their interest to do it. This decision, they would counsel it, by


the way, whether they do this, then Angela Merkel would have to talk to


others to say why they were not accepting a deal. There is something


that could happen in ten minutes and decided in an afternoon. Argues


surprise? That is the principle, it does not tell us the consequences.


-- are you surprised? Is economic modelling so discredited after what


was said in the Brexit votes that it is not worth the candle? There has


to be a positive and constructive case. Right now, front and for most,


we must get the best deal. I think certain elements will happen faster


than others. I think there will be a multitrack path for the


negotiations. Will it be multitrack? Michel Barnier will head up the


negotiations on the EU side. One of the things he is saying is that we


need to agree on the divorce bill before we talk about the post Brexit


relationship between the EU and the UK. The British government,


especially David Davis, he is saying that we need to talk about both at


the same time. That could be a dealbreaker if the Europeans don't


agree to that. The whole thing is fraught with difficulties. The


report by the economic and monetary affairs committee has put in all


kinds of impediments already. They have a draft which says that the EU


will have continued control. The men in charge is Mr Verhofstadt. He is


not in charge. Is he not a senior observer? He will be. On behalf of


the Parliament. He will have no negotiating role whatsoever. Right?


Every single one of those committees is doing that. They want the hardest


possible deal imaginable. There is one fair exposition of where we are


and what could happen. I don't agree with all of it. But for example, one


of the things it says as we are under no legal obligation to pay any


money. The House of Lords said that. The Affairs Committee. Is it a


dealbreaker to say we need to agree to the deal before we look at what


happens afterwards? The first thing you say in a negotiation is put the


hardest deal on the table. The bottom line, if it is a dealbreaker,


is that the EU need the money from the UK.. Money has become a bigger


issue right now. The point is that French farmers will not need money.


The last thing they need is the UK walking were from the table. The


French farmers will... Let me ask you, do you buy this rather


sanguinary brooch that we will have, in effect, the shape of the deal by


the autumn of 2018? In all of the summits I have covered, they always


go down to the wire. We have already got it in a way. Theresa May will


not repeal a single EU law and will not amend a single EU law before we


leave. And she will incorporate the entire body of the EU law. What


changes? What can be done by 2018? You will end up with a deal... I


just mean a timetable, what can be done? They cannot negotiate every EU


law by then. It is impossible. Do you think there should be time for


the EU Parliament, the British Parliament, the Scottish Parliament,


to have a say? Another element is the trade deal itself. That could


take longer. The bottom line is the divorce structure and settlement and


all of these elements can be mapped out. The easiest thing is what I


have described. Very well. We shall see. What is the future direction of


Europe if there is a future? Following the shock of Brexit and


Donald Trump, will the EU come closer together, or it is the path


forward more of this negotiation? We have been looking at the five


options laid out in a commission white paper, as Dan Johnson has been


finding out. Rome, 60 years ago, when Europe's future was first


mapped out. Many of those original principles still guided today, but


there have been bumps in the road. And this week, Europe's leaders


started discussing a new direction. Europe's future will be one of the


discussions ahead of the Rome anniversary. Some expect systemic


changes. We will strengthen the role of nations in relation to the


communion. But which way to turn? How best to get an agreement? And


are they serious about change? I think certainly the Brexit decision


has given a push in order to go in this direction. And finally it has


also reached the commission and also, you know, some of the other


political groups in this house, that we do need to reconsider some of the


things and some of the ways that we have done politics in the past in


the European Union. So, five options to be considered. Carrying on,


essentially nothing changes. Cutting back to nothing but the single


market, already effectively ruled out by the commission. Those who


want to do more would allow closer integration for some while others


moved at their own pace. They could all do less more efficiently. Or


they could agree on doing much more together. The leader of Parliament's


second weakest group knows what he wants. -- biggest. This is the fifth


scenario. The possibility to go on together for more European


integration and political integration. The majority of people


understand that we need a stronger and more united Europe.


It just so happens he was previously a forensic pathologist, which begs


the obvious question. I don't think the Europeans made that point. There


does seem to be acceptance that Europe has lost its way in recent


years. At least there is now a pause to reassess and look for new ways


forward. But to actually get anywhere, everyone has to agree on


the best route. They are hoping to do that by the end of this year but


that could be a tough ask. Jean-Claude Juncker has already


discussed his plan to the German Chancellor and Spain's Prime


Minister, but some euros diptych to make any of the options. --


eurosceptics. These options are just one option with different degrees.


The first one is to keep everything like it is and in fact we are seeing


that it is not working. The second one is to focus on the market, but


the commission says we don't want that option. The other is the three


different degrees of integration, but the point is integration for


what? And to do what? Is this the way to actually get people to love


Europe again? I think that there needs to be a European movement. We


as prose Europeans need to go to the streets again and say, we want this.


Because in so many countries there has been his narrative of the


European Union being something of the elites, being something top-down


and I think we need to say, no, this is not true. The challenge is to get


a new momentum and get back on track. All aboard! Even if we don't


yet know exactly where we are heading. All except the UK, of


course, whatever the new destination is Britain would be along for the


ride. You would have thought the prospect


of Britain leaving the EU, which is a huge historic event, whether you


are for or against it. You would have thought it would concentrate


minds in EU, to say, where do we go from here without Britain? But it


seems to me that they are as divided as ever on the way forward, is that


right? Everyone is pointing a different direction. The plan put


forward by Jean-Claude Juncker was interesting. It was a magician's


trick with one card sticking out. Everyone seems to like that, if they


are in the fast lane. To some extent the Nordics as well. Yes, so you end


up with a scenario in which those who are fast tracks see why it is


important. The other thing of course is that the elections, we've just


had the Dutch election, that has produced a result which I suspect


will take a long while to form government now in Holland. We've got


the French ones coming up and the Germans. In France that is run by Mr


Macron and Germany run by Mr Schultz would have a different direction,


then affronts run by Marine Le Pen or continues to be running Germany


by Chancellor Merkel. Is that not right? Exactly. They can't sort this


out quickly. The most sensible option will be to just concentrate


on terror free trade and turning... We want free trade. I don't think we


want the rest of it. They won't do that, will they? They won't.


Although Jean-Claude Juncker said at the end of his speech that he


wouldn't say what his preferred option was, I think most of us


guessed it was option five, deep integration all-round. The elections


this year are fascinating for a number of reasons, including this.


Mr Macron is a strong pro European, that his approach. Mr Schultz is a


strong European as well. But in Italy four out of five of the


biggest parties are now against the euro. They haven't as yet had an


election this year. These Europeans are a different ball game. It is


quite difficult to see the way forward, with all these differences


of opinion. One thing that seems to bring Europe together right now is


discussing Brexit. Curiously enough a lot of these populist movements


might not win elections but they are driving the debate on their side. As


they did in Holland. So we will see more Eurosceptic elements being


front and centre in a lot of these campaigns. The complexion of Europe


will change, even if they don't win... Is it that whatever path they


take, and it would be a decision because apparently we won't be


there, at whatever path Europe takes is it in our interest that given


that it is still our biggest market by a long way is it in our interest


that it should succeed? I think it is in our interest that it doesn't


go into economic meltdown, because that would be very bad for


everybody. But of course there is a tremendous disaster on the horizon,


which is what happens to the euro. In the report that Jean-Claude


Juncker did, he said we have to do something about youth unemployment.


In the second paragraph he said, we need to deepen economic monetary


union is and I don't understand that one of the biggest causes of the


economic problems in Europe is the European currency... He's talking


about making the monetary union work more sensibly, with a proper banking


union and with of payments from the rich countries. The difficulty with


that, given the Dutch elections, is that performing the euro will be


more difficult than ever. Absolutely. And it isn't a common


problem so there isn't a common solution. There are lots of


different problems in different directions, causing problems for the


commissioner and all the rest. We could see more parties like Ukip.


Divorces can be messy and if you fall out in a big way over the money


for example it can make it very difficult to make new arrangements.


How can a messy Brexit break be avoided? We have been to the former


Czechoslovakia to look at what can be learned from what came to be


called the Velvet Divorce. Picture this scene. New Year's Eve,


1992, and this square is packed with people celebrating the end of


Czechoslovakia and the birth of an independent Slovak Republic in a


process known as the Mr Schulz -- 'velvet divorce', so-called because


not a single shot was fired. At the castle evidence of where it all


started. Signs from the protest that overthrew communism in 1989.


Freedom. But the public word as involved in what happens next. The


main contender here is the leader Vladimir... The Slovak nationalists


was the victor in elections in 1992, and over an intense few weeks he


negotiated a split with his counterpart in the richer Czech part


of the country. There was no referendum and the divorce followed


a simple formula. There are 10 million Czech, 5 million Slovaks,


the property was divided two to one. The military was divided in the


similar way. Diplomatic services in our embassies were divided very


peacefully and we didn't have any border disputes. Because we always


had a border between the Czech and Slovak republics, so there were no


major fights. Since then, slow Bhatia has joined the EU and


flourished, or has it? -- Slovakia. This woman is a member of the former


Prime Minister's club with David Cameron and she says the split was


not democratic, left the country briefly bankrupt and was harder than


people remember. Some of the things were really sort of ten years later,


not immediately, not at all. All new state institutions. The president,


Parliament, government, justice, constitutional law. All institutions


of controlling mechanisms. Everything! For the next generation


of politicians, like the economy minister, it is all ancient history.


Or geography. I think it is the best partnership. Still good friends?


Still good friends. I'm not the only visitor from the UK. David Davis was


in town recently as well, could he have spied any lessons for the UK's


upcoming divorce? Openly, no lessons. I don't think it will be


over in one or two years. The key is to maintain goodwill and maintain


good relationships, where you are not playing games and tricks. It is


a triumph of nationalism and not much else. The two republics go


their separate ways. Watching another famous correspondent who


stood on the spot, the lesson I've learned is that separating seems


massive at the time but living apart last for much longer.


During the Scottish referendum I did a documentary about raking up and be


looked at the velvet divorce. Although they are two pretty small


countries, and you would think it would be easy, it turned out there


were many treaties that had to be done. Raking up is hard to do. Yes,


but the lesson is, if you make the decision to go and saw the details


out afterwards... That's not really the government's position. The


British government's position... It might not make sense. Before we go,


we want to see what it means. Other things actually involve us building


something fresh. There are couple of elements to this. I believe we can


do that if we both enter the discussions in a right frame of


mind. Can you look to negotiations in which there is no victor? Can


that be done? We can make them an offer they can't refuse and then we


all benefit and that seems to be the biggest issue. It would be immensely


difficult. Immigration is the next biggest problem. It can be done, we


have to keep focused on the outcome and that's a good deal for both


sides and that's what people want. Whatever the politicians want


remains to seen. We shall see. It will be an interesting time. Thank


you both. That's it from Politics Europe. I hope you can join me for


the next