European Parliament President ‘deeply worried’ at prospect of No Deal Brexit

David Sassoli was speaking following a meeting with EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier as the eighth round of talks draw to a close, seemingly with no sign of progress on issues like state aid, fisheries and the level playing field.
What can managers and leaders learn from Brexit?

By Martin Banks

Martin Banks is a senior reporter at the Parliament Magazine

10 Sep 2020

Sassoli noted that in 114 days, EU law will no longer apply in the UK, adding, “Time is not on our side and frankly, I am deeply worried considering the lack of progress in the negotiations at this late stage.”

“The EU respects the UK's sovereignty and we expect the UK to respect our fundamental principles, which we have been open and clear on from the outset.  Whilst we do not want a deal at any cost, we urge the UK to work with us constructively and find compromises that are in the interests of both sides.”

Sassoli, an Italian Socialist member, said, “On the implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement, trust and credibility are key.  We fully expect the UK to honour the commitments that it negotiated and signed up to last year – especially with regard to citizens' rights and Northern Ireland.”

He warned, “Any attempts by the UK to undermine the agreement would have serious consequences. The Union, with its institutions and Member States, is committed and united in wanting a fair agreement that benefits both European and British citizens.”

There was a further twist in the long-running Brexit saga on Thursday, with the EU considering legal action after the UK government introduced new legislation on Wednesday that will override key parts of the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement.

“Time is not on our side and frankly, I am deeply worried considering the lack of progress in the negotiations at this late stage” David Sassoli, European Parliament President

The bill addresses the Northern Ireland Protocol - an element of the Withdrawal Agreement designed to prevent a hard border returning to the island of Ireland.

The bill proposes no new checks on goods moving from Northern Ireland to Great Britain. It gives UK ministers powers to modify or “disapply” rules relating to the movement of goods that will come into force from 1 January, if the UK and EU are unable to strike a trade deal.

The bill has sparked emergency talks between the EU and UK Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove on how the changes could affect Northern Ireland. Gove will meet Commission Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič, who travelled to London earlier on Thursday.

At a press briefing on Thursday, a Commission spokesman confirmed the meeting would take place later in the day.

“At the meeting clarifications will be sought by the EU. We will take this step by step. We have made our views very clear on this and that the Withdrawal Agreement is the basis of our relationship with the UK.”

“This is an extremely cynical move and I strongly urge the UK government to withdraw the bill” Danuta Hubner MEP

“Today, we will wait for this clarification before we analyse the state of play and draw the possible consequences and the next steps.”

He added, though, that the EU was “very concerned” about the internal market bill published on Wednesday.

At the same time David Frost and Michel Barnier, the two sides’ negotiators on Brexit, will continue their talks in London on Thursday, he said.

Polish EPP member Danuta Hubner said in a statement that the bill “fundamentally undermines” the Withdrawal Agreement, adding, “this is an extremely cynical move and I strongly urge the UK government to withdraw the bill.”

GUE/NGL co-leader Martin Schirdewan, a member of Parliament’s UK Coordination Group, said, “The peace process in Ireland and the protection of the Good Friday Agreement has been an absolute priority from the very beginning.”

“If the British proceed to put this bill into law we will have to ask, what purpose is served by continuing to negotiate a future relationship with a British government that has no regard for international law or for the integrity of its own commitments?” Martin Schirdewan, GUE/NGL co-leader

“We identified early on that a Special Status for the North of Ireland was the only way to reconcile Brexit with EU Treaties and the Good Friday Agreement. In effect, this is the Irish Protocol in the Withdrawal Agreement.”

“Parliament has always been clear that the full implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement - including the Irish Protocol - is an essential precondition for an agreement on the future relationship between Britain and the EU.”

“The bill is a flagrant violation of the Withdrawal Agreement and an attack on the Good Friday Agreement. We fully endorse all necessary action to ensure the implementation of the Irish Protocol.”

Schirdewan added, “If the British proceed to put this bill into law we will have to ask, what purpose is served by continuing to negotiate a future relationship with a British government that has no regard for international law or for the integrity of its own commitments?”

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