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EU's Juncker demands Theresa May give more clarity on Brexit

Mar 13 2018 12:11
Jonathan Stearns and Ian Wishart, Bloomberg

Strasbourg - European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker demanded Prime Minister Theresa May give more detail about how the UK sees its relationship with the European Union after Brexit.

“It’s obvious that we need further clarity if we’re going to reach an understanding on our future relationship,” Juncker told the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France.

“It’s now time to translate speeches into treaties, turn commitments into agreements, and to move from the soundbite, broad suggestions and wishes on the future relationship to specific, workable solutions.”

May outlined her vision for life after the UK leaves the bloc in a speech earlier this month. But the EU says some of her demands are confusing, and others are unworkable because of her own red lines, such as ending European Court of Justice oversight of British affairs.

The UK wants an agreement this month on a transition period, which the EU said should last until the end of 2020. But difficulties over the Irish border, as well as the UK’s rejection of some rules proposed by the EU, means a deal has yet to be struck.

The EU “will stand firm and united when it comes to Ireland,” Juncker said at the start of the Brexit debate. “For us, this is not an Irish issue, it is a European issue,” he said to loud heckles from a UK member of parliament insisting it was “a British issue.”

Irish border

The EU two weeks ago suggested Northern Ireland should remain a member of the bloc’s customs union and keep parts of the single market to prevent a return to a hard border with the rest of Ireland - unless the UK can come up with an acceptable alternative.

Guy Verhofstadt, the parliament’s Brexit point person, called for a far-reaching post-Brexit partnership between the UK and the EU, and predicted Britain would recognise the merits of such an arrangement. “Britain will see the advantages of such an approach - to have a decent, deep association partnership from both sides,” Verhofstadt said.

With the UK scheduled to leave the bloc in a year’s time and much still to negotiate, Nigel Farage, a member of the European Parliament and one of Brexit’s most vocal champions, urged May to stand up to the “unelected bullies” of the EU and revelled in the US threat of punitive trade tariffs.

“You’ve met your match in Donald Trump,” he told them.

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eu  |  theresa may  |  uk  |  brexit  |  economy


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