News ID: 202661
Published: 0348 GMT October 18, 2017

EU leaders voice frustration on UK Brexit position, money

EU leaders voice frustration on UK Brexit position, money

EU leaders meeting this week in Brussels are still unsure what Britain wants from Brexit, Irish premier Leo Varadkar said, as the European Parliament’s president warned London’s financial offer was “peanuts”.

“It is quite a difficult negotiation when people who want to leave the European Union in Britain don’t really seem to agree among themselves what that actually means,” Varadkar told BBC television late Tuesday, AFP reported.

In a separate BBC interview, European Parliament President Antonio Tajani voiced similar frustration – and warned Britain it must be more “realistic” on its offer of the financial settlement.

Prime Minister Theresa May has promised to maintain Britain’s contributions for two years after Brexit in March 2019 to complete the current EU budget period, totaling around 20 billion euros ($24 billion).

“Twenty billion is peanuts. The problem is 50 or 60 (billion euros), this is the real situation,” Tajani told the Newsnight program late Tuesday.

He added: “The UK government is not realistic. We need to put the money on the table, we need our money back as Mrs. Thatcher said 30 or 40 years ago. Then it is possible to start the negotiations for the new deal.”

EU leaders are meeting in Brussels today for a two-day summit in which they will decide what progress has been made in the first stage of negotiations on Britain’s withdrawal.

London had hoped EU leaders would approve the start of talks on the future trading relationship between the two sides, but this is likely to be postponed until a December summit.

“It’s still not clear what the UK actually wants in terms of a new relationship,” Varadkar told the Spotlight program.

“Because, on the one hand, it seems that the UK wants to have a close trading relationship with Europe just like it has now, but it also seems to want something different. And it is very hard for us as European prime ministers to understand exactly what the UK wants the new relationship to look like.”

Tajani echoed his comments, and referred to the splits in May’s cabinet over Britain’s future.

“We want to know what the UK wants to do. This is the problem. It is not very clear,” he said.


Next stage of Brexit bill


The British PM’s spokesman said on Wednesday that May has not yet set a date for the next stage in the passage of legislation to sever ties with the EU.

The EU withdrawal bill, which seeks largely to ‘copy and paste’ EU law into British legislation to ensure Britain has functioning laws and the same regulatory framework as the bloc at the moment of Brexit, is the next major hurdle for May, Reuters wrote.

Weakened by a June election when she lost her governing Conservatives’ majority and an ill-fated party conference that failed to reset her agenda, May wants to steer the bill through both Houses of Parliament with as little difficulty as possible.

But lawmakers have already proposed several amendments to the bill, including some to hand Parliament a vote at the end of the negotiating process with the EU and others to reduce the amount of power the government gives itself to amend laws.

Asked whether the government was planning to introduce the legislation into the so-called committee phase of its lengthy passage towards the statute book in November, her spokesman told reporters: “We haven’t yet confirmed a date for the bill at the committee stage.”

Sources in both the Conservative and opposition Labour parties expect the government to offer some concessions to avoid a defeat, amending powers which allow ministers to rewrite some laws without consulting Parliament.

Several Conservative lawmakers said they would not vote on any amendment that had been backed by opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

But the sheer number of amendments could slow the progress of a bill which the government says is essential to ease Britain’s departure from the EU in March 2019 and give certainty to business.


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