Federalists tried to kill EU exit clause; now Britain wants to dodge it
06:34 EST, 28 June 2016
06:34 EST, 28 June 2016
By Alastair Macdonald and Paul Taylor
BRUSSELS, June 28 (Reuters) - Europe's most ardent federalists, including the man now pulling the strings in the European Commission, tried to kill off the European Union's exit clause or make it unworkable when it was first proposed in 2003.
Now Britain, having voted to quit the EU in a landmark referendum, is trying for tactical reasons to avoid triggering that very procedure, crafted by a veteran British diplomat, that leads to automatic withdrawal after two years.
The history of the exit clause that became Article 50 of the 2009 Treaty of Lisbon is full of such ironies.
Drafted by John Kerr, a former British ambassador to the EU who was secretary-general of a Convention on the Future of Europe, it was proposed by former French President Valery Giscard d'Estaing, who chaired the conclave that drew up a proposed Constitution for Europe.
Giscard told the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera this week he had wanted to remove "the fear, above all Anglo-Saxon, that the European Union was a sort of prison that you could never leave once you had entered it".
Kerr, now a member of Britain's House of Lords, told Reuters the aim had also been to counter media propaganda depicting Britain as trapped on a conveyor belt to a European superstate.
"We wanted to defuse the canard that you are tied to the EU, with no way out, proceeding to an unknown destination," he said.
pre bonded hairIn reality, a country could have left even before the legal option was incorporated into the treaty, he said, but the clause created an orderly process for the first time.
"If you had stopped paying and attending, they'd notice you were gone," said Kerr. But Giscard was "mindful of the history of the secession and the Civil War in the United States" and sought to create a peaceful way out.
"The Commission and the European Parliament didn't like it because they thought it was sovereignist and if Jean Monnet (the French founding father of European integration) hadn't thought it necessary, why add it now?" Kerr said.
TIME LIMIT CONSTRAINT
That opposition prompted federalists led by Elmar Brok, a German conservative who headed the EU legislature's delegation in the Convention, to try to block the clause, then add language limiting the transition period to a maximum two years.
"I was against it," Brok told Reuters. "If a member state wanted to leave the EU, there were other ways. It didn't require a special article.
"But since Giscard and others wanted it, we incorporated it in a trade-off for more rights for the European Parliament," the veteran lawmaker said, illustrating the kind of horse-trading that is the way the EU does business.
Brok noted that Article 50 was anyway just a divorce law that did not cover future cooperation, which he said could only be negotiated once the former member was outside the door. That is precisely what Britain's Leave campaigners want to avoid.
remy hair extensionsHe was not alone in opposing the exit clause. German and Dutch government representatives spoke against it in the 105-member Convention, arguing it would only encourage secession.
"This clause should be struck out," then German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer told the Convention. "So far there has been no need for an exit provision for the Union."
The two-year restriction was added by Martin Selmayr, then a legal adviser to the parliamentary legal affairs committee and now chief-of-staff to European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and widely seen as the most powerful man in Brussels.
The time limit creates a big problem for a country such as Britain wishing to negotiate advantageous exit terms, since once notice has been given the process can only be halted or extended by unanimous agreement, giving any member state a veto.
That is why London is holding back from notifying its intention to withdraw, which it cannot be forced to do, and why EU partners are pressing it to hand in its notice.
"Would you advise (the British) to send a letter that triggers automatism and puts all the pressure on them? From the moment you push the button you are in a stupid negotiating scenario," a senior EU official involved in the process said.
"I personally think they will never notify. They have the cleverest civil servants on the planet," the official said.
When a House of Lords select committee published a report on the draft EU constitution in October 2003, its members showed great foresight about the current situation.
The section on the exit clause concludes laconically: "We doubt that the reality of any attempt to withdraw would be as simple as the draft implies." (Writing by Paul Taylor; editing by Peter Graff)
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Chris Rock's 33-year-old girlfriend Megalyn Echikunwoke flashed a diamond ring on her wedding finger on Saturday evening while at the Apollo in the Hamptons 2016 party in New York City.
The timing is interesting as the next day the comedian finalized his divorce from wife of 20 years, Malaak Compton-Rock.
The ring - a yellow gold double band with a small diamond - could be an engagement ring. As PageSix revealed on Thursday, a friend shared a clear image of the ring and added it was time to celebrate 'new beginnings,' strongly suggesting the standup could be on his way to another marriage.
perruques cheveux naturelsBling it on! Chris Rock's girlfriend Megalyn Echikunwoke flashed diamond ring on wedding finger on Sunday the night before his divorce was finalized from wife of 10 years Malaak
'Last night we celebrated new beginnings . . . #lovewins,' the unidentified friend wrote in the caption.
The site pointed out Echikunwoke seemed to take a dig at Malaak when she replied 'Bye, Felicia,' which is a catchphrase that pretty much translates to 'don't let the door hit you on the way out,' only not as polite.
A friend added crying-laughter emojis.
They look good together: The standup and Echikunwoke at the Governor's Ball at the 88th Academy Awards back in February; she does not appear to have the ring on here
The post was then taken down.
The beauty glowed as she held onto Rock, who was also in great spirits. She had on a lovely floral-print dress with spaghetti straps and her hair was worn down over her bare shoulders.
A source told PageSix, 'she always wears that ring,' which appears to be true as she has had it on several times in the past six months. They have been dating for one year and she lives at his New Jersey home.
The last one: Rock and Malaak back in 2014; they have two daughters together and have raised an adopted daughter as well
His rep then said Chris was '100 percent' not engaged.
On Monday Chris and Malaak both appeared in a New Jersey courtroom to finalise the split, reported TMZ.
The 51-year-old comic actor and his wife - who have been separated since 2014 -have two daughters Lola Simone, 14 and Zahra Savanna, 12.
Chris and Malaak Compton-Rock also appear to have been raising eight-year-old Ntombi, who first came to live with them from South Africa when she was six months old, according to the website, although details are unclear.
In divorce papers, Malaak listed Ntombi-futhi Samantha as a dependent along with the Rocks’ two biological daughters.
The kids: Chris with Malaak and children Lola, Zahra Savanna and Ntombi at the Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted premiere in NYC in 2012
perruques cheveuxShe stated that in addition to their two children, there is a child 'who has resided with the parties since before her first birthday.'
But rather mysteriously, a spokesman for Chris told TMZ he does not have an adopted child.
TMZ previously reported that back in 2008, the family took in Ntombi who remained in their house and was subsequently enrolled in a local school.
She mingles with the big guns: Chris and Megalyn with Harvey Weinstein at the Apollo party
The site added that the girl's parents were thought to be unemployed and from South Africa, although it is not known why she was living with the Rock family.
They add that when Chris and Malaak began divorce proceedings, Chris maintained contact with his two biological daughters.
However their divorce case is sealed so it is not known what settlement was reached.
Meanwhile, Chris began dating actress Megalyn earlier this year. Megalyn, who has had recurring roles in 24, ER, CSI Miami, The 4400, 90210 and Damien, was most recently featured as the animal-powered Vixen in the TV series Arrow.
Madonna surprised fans with an unexpected appearance at a 25th anniversary screening of her documentary Truth Or Dare on Wednesday.
The superstar showed up at the event held at the Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan to the delight of the 400 or so in the audience.
The 58-year-old pop culture icon shared a couple of photos on her Instagram showing her standing between two on-screen images of herself from her Blond Ambition tour of 1990.
'Surreal moment!' she wrote alongside the picture.lace front wigs
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'Surreal moment!' Madonna surprised fans at a 25th anniversary screening of documentary Truth Or Dare and posed next to images of herself from the 1990 Blond Ambition Tour
Madonna: Truth Or Dare was first released in May 1991 and followed the Material Girl on tour and showed her behind-the-scenes with then-boyfriend Warren Beatty, praying with her backup dancers and facing arrest for public indecency at her concert in Toronto, Canada.
'So many freedoms we take for granted that we did not have then. Thank you Alek Keshishian. We changed history with this film.!' Madonna wrote.
Keshishian directed the film that was shot in black and white.
Who's that girl? The pop icon, who just turned 58, delighted the 400 or so fans gathered to watch the film at the museum Of Modern Art in Manhattan on Wednesday
Demure: Madonna wore an off-he-shoulder red dress with white floral detailing and cinched at the waist with a black band for her surprise appearance
Sharing 'a kiki': She was accompanied by her daughter Lourdes 'Lola' Leon, 19
In a second photo shared via her Instagram, she's seen sharing 'a kiki' with daughter Lourdes Leon or Lola as she calls her.
Madonna wore a red off-the-shoulder dress with a flounce neckline and black spaghetti straps.
The frock features white floral detailing, half-sleeves and was cinched under the bust with a black band.cosplay wigs
She added a matching black and white floral patterned purse and wore her signature blonde hair styled in loose waves to her shoulders.
Madonna had just returned from a birthday trip to Cuba with Lola, 19, and adopted children, 10-year-olds David and Mercy.
Truth Or Dare AKA In Bed With Madonna showed behind-the-scenes footage of the singer including candid moments with then-boyfriend Warren Beatty and prayer circles with her dancers
Getaway: Madonna recently celebrated her 58th birthday with a trip to Cuba accompanied by daughter Lola, 19, and her adopted children David and Mercy, both 10