Europe

EU expected to maintain Brexit stance

The EU is signaling it will accelerate its preparations for the 'no deal Brexit'

Sibel Uğurlu   | 17.01.2019
EU expected to maintain Brexit stance File Photo

By Serife Cetin

BRUSSELS

After the U.K. parliament overwhelmingly rejected the Brexit agreement, the European Union (EU) is expected to maintain its stance that the current deal is the best.

Following the British parliament's rejection of the Brexit agreement Tuesday, EU officials and leaders of member countries signaled the bloc will not seriously change the Brexit deal which is the result of negotiations ongoing for almost two years.

The EU is signaling it will accelerate its preparations for the "no deal Brexit" while insisting Britain “clarify its intentions" on Brexit deal as soon as possible.

EU persistent on current deal

EU officials voiced concern over the results of voting on Prime Minister Theresa May’s EU withdrawal agreement, saying the current deal is "the best possible deal."

Issuing a message following U.K. parliament voting, Jean-Claude Juncker said, " The Withdrawal Agreement is a fair compromise and the best possible deal."

Likewise, European Union's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said, "Contrary to what was said over the past weeks and days, the deal that we reached with the British government – a deal of almost 600 pages – is a good deal. It is obviously the result of a compromise. It is the best possible compromise."

Barnier also warned about preservation of the existing, legally binding arrangements on the backstop.

"The backstop must remain a backstop; it must remain a credible backstop,” Barnier said.

French President Emmanuel Macron said everything that can be done for the Brexit agreement were done at the "maximum level."

"We cannot stop defending the interests of Europe to solve the internal problems of Britain," Macron said, underlining that there will be no major changes in the agreement.

No deal Brexit

Another point which shows EU leaders are committed to the idea that the current agreement is not open to negotiation, is the EU leaders' remarks about the increasing risk of a "disorderly withdrawal" following the rejection of the agreement in the British parliament.

“The risk of a disorderly withdrawal of the United Kingdom has increased with this evening's vote,” Juncker said in a statement while Barnier warned that the risk of no-deal on Brexit is imminent.

Following the suit, Preben Aamann, the spokesman for European Council President Donald Tusk, said, preparations for all outcomes, including a no-deal scenario would continue.

"The risk of a disorderly exit has increased with this vote, and while we do not want this to happen, we will be prepared for it," Aamann told Anadolu Agency.

“No-one wants a no-deal Brexit, but we are getting close to this,” said EU Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs Pierre Moscovici.

Postponing exit

Another option which the EU side looks positively on is the postponement of March 29, when Britain will leave the union.

EU Commission's chief spokesman Margaritis Schinas said there was not such a request from the U.K. for an extension, however, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said “we still have time to negotiate.”

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said he was skeptical that the Brexit agreement can be re-negotiated.

“If there would be such a request, we will deal with it in a very constructive way,” Maas said.

The French president said Britain would ask for more time to negotiate and warned that this would disrupt European Parliament elections in May.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said a possible U.K. demand to extend Brexit would be welcomed by the EU only if the British are willing to "move on their preconditions."

If the U.K. requests an extension, it needs the approval of 27 other EU member countries.

Withdrawal from Brexit

The EU leaders repeatedly said before the U.K. parliament's voting on Brexit agreement they would also welcome the withdrawal of the U.K. from the Brexit.

The European Court of Justice ruled last month that the U.K. could cancel the Brexit process unilaterally.

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