When cracks appear, they can either be fixed, or they can be papered over for a while, or they can start to spread dangerously.
The first crack in European unity over Brexit has appeared. Mr Seehofer, leader of the CSU and German Minister for the Interior, has stated that it is important that the EU maintain full security co-operation with the UK post-Brexit.
He believes that the UK should remain fully integrated in the European security structure and that there should be mutual access to all security databases. This is something that the EU has, so far, ruled out.
As always, domestic politics plays an outsized role in his position.
There is not much love lost between Mr Seehofer and Ms Merkel. The most recent spat over immigration policy nearly brought down the federal government.
That particular crack was papered over with a fix that is unlikely to work in practice. So we should expect more fireworks in due course.
The CSU faces elections in Bavaria in the Autumn. The party is under threat from the AfD and may lose its routine absolute majority in the Bavarian parliament. The party needs to position itself for that election.
Add to that the bad blood between the CSU and Merkel’s CDU (and the corrosive personal chemistry between Seehofer and Merkel) and who knows what might happen next.
As interior minister, Seehofer is right that it is his role to protect the security of German citizens. If a break with the UK on security matters threatens that, then he should speak out.
Under threat from the AfD, the CSU has no particular interest in being seen as particularly pro-European – or to be seen to be putting EU interests above German interests.
And, of course, a potential break with the UK on security issues threatens everyone, not just German citizens. It is only the Commission’s dogged and inflexible approach to its own structures that prevents continuing EU-UK security cooperation seamlessly post-Brexit.
Such co-operation not only has security implications but also an industrial impact. Companies like Airbus and others who deal in military equipment have supply chains that include the UK – supply chains that are under threat if the UK is excluded from participating in security-sensitive projects.
Replacing those very specific skills and capabilities from other EU states cannot be done overnight – if at all.
For the UK, the Irish border was the critical and ultimately insoluble issue that seems to be driving towards a soft Brexit. For the EU, it might well be defence and security that end up driving flexibility rather than rigidity.
Who wants to be the politician who stands up to explain the next terrorist strike on the European mainland after.
We shall see.
See Safe Together.
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