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Thursday 8 December 2016

It's bonanza time for the Eurobores and spoofers

Downing on politics...

Published 06/07/2016 | 02:30

Word from Brussels is that this summer will be a time for reflection.
Word from Brussels is that this summer will be a time for reflection.

I went to Brussels in the summer of 1989 for a two-year stint which turned into 10 years. It's a great city - but it has an image problem.

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Early in my sojourn I conjured up an offence which I termed "loitering with intent to Eurobore".

There is a peculiar class of animal who glories in the details for their own sake and EU-land is heaven for them.

I was reminded of this as, with a heavy heart, I waded into the details and tried yet again to make sense of Brexit, and figure out what happens next.

Then up popped this gem: If Britain waits too long on that Article 50 - the EU could whack them with Article 7.

Look, I'll keep this short if you promise to stay awake.

Article 50 is the exit mechanism provided only as recently as 2009 to allow a member state to leave the EU.

You have probably heard it can only be triggered by the UK in this instance.

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And boy are they likely to drag their heels now they have met with the shock of what they have voted to do. We could really be looking at sometime deep into 2017.

But Article 7 is the EU's equivalent to that catch-all charge in soccer of "bringing the game into disrepute".

It came in with the Amsterdam Treaty of 1998 and is designed to deal with human rights abuses.

In this instance it could be argued that the ongoing economic instability caused by Britain's dithering was harming all the other member states.

Sanctions include a suspension of voting rights.

Rather like Article 50, that provision has never been used, though it was talked about in the case of Hungary and Poland some years ago. You can amaze your posh pals with that one - or it might be of use in a pub quiz. But that is about the height of it.

Reality is that this kind of talk is really about giving a legal answer to a political question.

The only way we are going to make sense of this crazy and multifaceted post-Brexit world is via good politics. That is in very short supply right now.

In an ideal world there would be an early opening of EU-UK negotiations. If some positive signals could be sent from that process we might have some hope of a semblance of stability.

There can be no gain talking about the perilous fallout which could result for Irish farming, heaping another variable on to a mountain of uncertainty. But we just have to stay positive here.

Best is to stay with the simple reality that nothing changes until Britain actually leaves - or maybe indeed if it leaves.

Word from Brussels is that this summer will be a time for reflection, as the rest of the member states wait for the British Tories to sort themselves out and pick a leader.

Time may in reality help here.

What people on all sides agree to this week will undoubtedly be far different to what will be agreed a year hence.

Ireland's mission will remain the same. We need to help the UK to the best possible deal.

John Downing is an Irish Independent political correspondent

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