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Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, said over the weekend that he hoped an agreement between the bloc and the UK on the size of the divorce bill would be forthcoming in the next two weeks. “The European taxpayer,” he insisted in an interview with a French newspaper, “must not pay for a decision taken by the UK alone.”
The cost to Britain of leaving the EU is one thing. But, as Gideon Rachman argues in his column, striking a deal tolerable to both sides on a range of other issues, from migration to markets, is quite another. Mr Barnier and his colleagues from the EU 27 hold most of the cards, Gideon writes. Buffeted domestically by the unrealistic demands of Conservative Brexiters, the UK government is likely to be “politically and technically incapable of delivering a negotiated Brexit”.
Given that the conflict between Brexiters and Remainers over continued British membership of the European single market is still unresolved, and so no conclusions can confidently be drawn about Britain’s negotiating position, the temptation for the EU to indulge in a bit of brinkmanship is considerable. Though, Gideon cautions, the Europeans should be careful what they wish for. “Imposing a humiliating settlement on Britain might even seem economically advantageous. But the long-term political and strategic consequences are much harder to calculate.”
Poor leadership is the Achilles heel of the Brexiter cause: Janan Ganesh asks why the political champions of Brexit are so unimpressive. Bringing about a satisfactory Brexit will be a feat of high politics. Unfortunately, none of the cheerleaders for the UK’s departure from the EU seems up to the job.
A currency union with many different forms of money: In the second in the FT’s Future of Europe series, Claire Jones argues that the “eurozone project cannot stand still”. Further economic and monetary integration is vital to the long-term success of the European project.
How Small Tech can move fast and fix things: As relations between the tech industry and national governments deteriorate fast, John Thornhill finds reasons for qualified optimism. While the titans of Silicon Valley squabble with politicians over tax, fake news and monopoly power, small civic tech organisations are showing how the state can deliver better public services.
Best of the rest
Theresa May’s position is unsustainable, but she can’t see it — Matthew d’Ancona in the Guardian
Without agreement between France and Germany, there will be no progress in Europe — Franziska Brantner, Andreas Jung and Georg Link in Le Monde
What possessed Michael Gove, the government’s most talented Brexiteer, to offer Theresa May his Brexit advice? — Tom Harris in the Telegraph
How victory could trick Democrats — David Leonhardt in the New York Times
How to combat populist demagogues — Dani Rodrik for Project Syndicate
What you’ve been saying
How EVs can bring about decarbonisation — letter from Prof Jeffrey D Sachs, Columbia University in New York
“Sir, Your Big Read article ‘Green driving’s dirty secret’ (November 9) explains that electric vehicles (EVs) emit CO2 indirectly when charged with electricity generated by carbon-based energy (coal, oil, or gas). Yet this is not a case against EVs. It is a case against carbon-based electricity. The world needs to decarbonise by around mid-century to achieve the Paris climate agreement goal of ‘holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 °C above preindustrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C’. To achieve the Paris goal, the world must end the transport-based emissions of CO2, as well as emissions from other sectors.”
Comment by Gustavinberlin on Wolfgang Munchau’s article, Europe’s four freedoms are its very essence
“On of the best things about WM’s articles is the willingness to try and read forward and look at paths of development which the EU might take (not quite making predictions but at least daring to make rational guesses). Britain doesn’t want to a part of that future, it seems, at the moment. But it’s an unpredictable game.”
Practical problems with overseas student numbers — letter from C R Cann, London
“The renewed publicity about possibly not counting overseas students against UK net immigration targets does not so far seem to recognise certain practical problems. If this idea were adopted, not only would it be even more important than now to have genuinely effective controls to ensure that students did not overstay their visas, but it would also be necessary to ensure that departing students were identified and not counted as emigrants for the purposes of net immigration numbers. Failing such arrangements our net immigration statistics could become seriously misleading.”
How Small Tech can move fast and fix things
Companies need to collaborate with governments and win the trust of voters
FT Swamp Notes: The tax reform the US really needs
Trickle-down mythology delivers all the benefits to the richest 1%
A smaller share of a smaller pie
Stagnant labour incomes and sluggish productivity may have a common cause
A currency union with many different forms of money
The eurozone’s position will remain precarious without closer financial integration
Air pollution worsens as India’s political smog thickens
As New Delhi is engulfed in toxic fumes, the city’s wealthy pay for breathable air
Brexit Britain is at Europe’s mercy
The likeliest outcome is that the EU imposes a deal on the UK
WTF? What’s the Future and Why It’s Up to Us, by Tim O’Reilly
A longstanding Silicon Valley thinker suggests ways to keep humans and tech aligned
FT View: The onus is on Britain to unblock Brexit talks
The EU sees little point in making concessions to a weak government
FT View: TPP after Trump: and then there were 11
A diminished deal still makes sense, and the US may one day return
The Big Read
The Big Read: Brazil’s vulnerability is a big opportunity for Chinese investors
Is China the saviour or captor of the Latin American country’s assets?