Sunday 15 September 2019

Britain more likely to leave without agreement, say bemused EU officials


The EU's chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier. Photo: PA
The EU's chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier. Photo: PA
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

Senior European Union officials say Britain's position on leaving the bloc is confusing and that it seems increasingly likely the country will depart without an agreement.

Finnish Prime Minister Antti Rinne, whose country currently holds the EU's rotating presidency, said yesterday that "the situation in Britain is quite a mess now and we don't know what is happening there".

"It seems very obvious that we are not getting Brexit with an agreement," he said.

European Parliament President David Sassoli said "everything seems to be rather confused".

"It's very difficult to understand what the British government and parliament want to do right now."

They add that the EU is prepared for a no-deal Brexit and stands united in defending the divorce agreement.

EU and British negotiators will continue to hold talks in Brussels aimed at breaking the deadlock.

The EU's chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, has privately said the talks are in a state of "paralysis".

Sources say there is little chance of a breakthrough, while the UK focuses on a general election.

European Commission spokeswoman Natasha Bertaud said that "for progress to be made in the talks, it remains crucial that the EU does receive concrete proposals on all changes that the United Kingdom would like to see, of course in compatibility with the Withdrawal Agreement."

The incoming president of the European Council, Charles Michel, said he already sees signs that the UK is looking "more and more" to the US in its foreign policy.

EU capitals have been closely watching developments in London but as of yet there has not been any contact among leaders about the possibility of granting the UK a further Brexit extension.

A spokesperson for German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, said this week that she is still focused on getting a deal over the line before October 31.

Ireland will push EU leaders to delay Brexit further but they may have a job to convince some members of the EU27.

Irish Independent

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