The European Union will make no concessions to the United Kingdom in view of the “divorce” that will fall next March 29. At the same time, EU27 member Countries will try to establish future partnership based on “mutual interest” and “long-lasting friendship.” Michel Barnier, European Chief Negotiator for Brexit, appears more relaxed today. On Sunday November 25 the heads of Government and State signed the draft agreement for an “orderly withdrawal” along with a political declaration on future relations between the opposite shores of the Channel. EU27 countries were “united and concordant”, and voiced appreciation for the work carried out by Barnier, who declared: “It is now time for ratification by the British Parliament, and by the European Parliament”, and thus “respect mutual commitments.”
Limiting damages. “This deal is the only and the best deal possible”, Barnier pointed out. He equally stressed that “we are at an important and serious moment”, and delved into the main points of the withdrawal Agreement: citizens’ rights and freedom of movement, peace and stability in Ireland, the integrity of the single market and economic relations with the UK, the financial settlement (the UK will pay the European Union €40 billion). “The European Union did not want Brexit to happen, but we respect the democratic and sovereign vote of the British citizens and now we limit the negative consequences of Brexit for both sides setting out the framework of future relations that benefit both sides”, namely, EU member Countries and a third Country. The British isle will be assimilated – some took pleasure in drawing examples – to Madagascar, the Philippines or Uruguay.
An “orderly withdrawal.” The issues that the EU intends to regulate – while preserving close relations with the UK – are particularly complex, ranging from trade to mobility, to the fight on terrorism, research, universities, public bidding, digital technology and even foreign affairs. ” We put things in order, starting by negotiating an orderly withdrawal – added the French politician – before discussing the framework of the future relationship. Concerns involve 4.5 million EU citizens living in the United Kingdom, businesses and the financial sector, farmers.”
Rewriting the rules after 45 years of presence in the European common home is not an easy task.But Barnier is “optimistic” also with regard to Westminister’s endorsement. “There never has been an aggressive attitude during the negotiations. There will never be any feeling of revenge, and there never has been. We will continue to work with the respect that is due to a great country, our friend, partner and ally”, Barnier said.
“Everyone’s failure.” But MEPs in Brussels don’t speak with a single voice. Guy Verhofstadt, Belgian Liberal MEP, the European Parliament’s Brexit Coordinator, echoed Barnier’s words: “this deal has three positive aspects. It reduces to a minimum possible disturbances for both parties, it ensures that there will be no hardening of the Northern Irish/Irish border safeguarding the Good Friday Agreement, and it protects citizens on both sides.”
Verhofstadt pointed out that in the future an Association Agreement could be established with London, as happens with other neighbouring Balkan Countries.Then, he sadly remarked: “the fact remains that Brexit is a failure for everyone.” German MEP Elmar Brok (EPP) was not very subtle about it: “Britain is now a split Country. Politics are divided, society is divided. Everyone will be affected, that’s why we need to define a new partnership that safeguards free trade and the single market.”
The will of the people. MEP Geoffrey Van Orden, (European Conservatives), has a different view: “the EU has heavily entered everyday life, invading every field, and that’s why in the referendum the British people chose Brexit. The European project has been repudiated by the citizens themselves.” With hard words, Nigel Farage, a true blue pro-Independence Englishman, declared:
“The deal signed by EU27 is a good deal. But it’s a good deal for the European Union not for us. In fact the withdrawal arrangements add up to the worst deal in history for my Country, which would thus become hostage to the EU.” “PM Theresa May has surrendered. She signed everything. But rest assured: London’s Parliament will not ratify this Agreement.” During a debate at the European Parliament in Brussels French MEP Gilles Lebreton, member of Marine Le Pen’s political group, admonished: “the EU must learn to respect the will of the people. Long live the British people! Long live Brexit!”