Bright and happy European citizens as Maros refuses to sing the blues
It was Mood Indigo, or maybe Song Sung Blue as Maros Sefcovic strode into the EU press conference room in cavernous airplane hangar style. Resplendent in an azure riot – sky blue tie and navy blue jacket on a blue campanula background – the Vice-President of the European Commission rushed forward, sparkling with importance to deliver a long-awaited speech.
So much expected, in fact, that some of the key players struggled to contain themselves. On Saturday evening, Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney, Irish Foreign Minister, started a late-night Twitter row with Brexit negotiator David Frost. “Does UKG really want an agreed way forward or a further break in the relationship?” He tweeted. Shots, as they say.
It took Frost an hour to respond, but by half past midnight (presumably after tripping inside, kebab in hand) he had retaliated with sassy levels usually reserved for Rebecca Vardy’s feuds with Colleen Rooney. “I prefer not to negotiate via Twitter, but since then [Simon Coveney] started the process… ”Then in Lisbon on Tuesday, armed with his best impression of John Bull and enough quotes from Burke to delight a Tory fringe event, Frost spoke wistfully of tearing the Protocol up completely.
So between the Twitter diplomacy and the fight rhetoric, things seemed resentful. It was left to Mr. Sefcovic, every inch the middle-ranking management consultant, to play the role of the peacemaker. He rightly offered many “blue sky reflections” and new concessions to resolve the impasse. And they had moved far more than many expected – cutting customs controls by 80%, cutting customs formalities in half – though they always insisted they would stand firm in the European Court. of justice.
The EU extended its olive branch in amiable technological chatter. “If I had to label these proposals,” he proudly announced, “I would call them a set of enhanced opportunities. Mr. S may be waiting a while for that editor job at Saatchi or the role of editor at The Sun to come to him.
“The EU has an unwavering commitment to the people of Northern Ireland,” he insisted, and indeed few would doubt it, given Brussels’ impeccable attention to detail. Imposing, as they do, more controls on goods entering NI than along the entire eastern border of the EU, it is clear that one cannot be too careful when it comes to protecting the the people of Northern Ireland against dangers such as… food and medical imports.
But it was all typical of Sefcovic’s sunny revisionism, which sought to erase past divisions and anticipate a newer and brighter chapter in EU-UK relations. “We should really put this whole thing of – red lines, artificial deadlines aside,” he suggested, cordially, as if spreading a misunderstanding between the contestants from the homemade marmalade class at the village show. A generalized constitutional crisis has been reclassified as “youth issues”. There was even the promise of lunch with “my esteemed colleague Lord Frost” on Friday.
Sefcovic maintained his soothing optimism even in the face of unpleasant questions. Why the persistent rigor of pet passports, wanted to know a journalist? Were the sausage concessions just a trick to offer something more meaty? “I want to focus on the positive agenda,” beamed Sefcovic. “We could be on the home stretch when it comes to protocol.” The subtext was clear: I didn’t come here to sing the blues – so why can’t we all get along?