Hans-Olaf Henkel: EU trying to punish UK in Brexit talks

German ECR group MEP Hans-Olaf Henkel has claimed that the EU wants to punish Britain in the Brexit talks.

Hans-Olaf Henkel | Photo credit: European Parliament audiovisual

By Martin Banks

Martin Banks is a senior reporter at the Parliament Magazine

19 Jul 2017

The negotiations between the two sides resumed in Brussels on Monday with the UK's divorce bill top of the agenda.

Other matters due to be discussed before the latest round of discussions conclude on Thursday are the Irish border issue and citizens' rights.

But Henkel has waded in to the Brexit debate, saying European Parliament's negotiator, Guy Verhofstadt, and the EU's chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, want to punish Britain in the talks.

The deputy adds, "The reason is simple. They would seek to make sure that Brexit is such a catastrophe that no country dares to take the step of leaving the EU again."

Henkel, in a newspaper interview, stressed that he would like the UK to stay a member of Euratom but warned if it chooses to do so, "it will mean paying in and abiding by the rules, as Britain does now, and accepting the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice when it comes to overseeing Euratom."

Meanwhile, Lord Kerr, the author of article 50, has called for Brexit to be halted, warning that the "disastrous consequences" of Britain's decision to leave the bloc are becoming "clearer every day". 

Lord Kerr of Kinlochard is one of more than 60 prominent figures in Scotland who signed a joint letter saying that Brexit has seriously damaged the UK's international reputation. 

The peer, who was Britain's permanent representative at the EU for five years from 1990, said when he wrote article 50 he believed it would only ever be triggered by a dictatorial regime.

His comments come amid reports in the British media that the UK will not agree a final figure on its financial settlement to the EU until near the close of negotiations in March 2019, and will seek to maintain flexibility on the sum until then. 

This flies in the face of EU demands that sufficient progress must be made on the method of calculation in order for talks to advance to a future trade deal.

It is believed that the UK is not planning to release an estimate of its financial obligations to the EU this week, despite warnings from EU diplomats that talks may stall if the UK fails to present proposals on the settlement. 

A well-placed UK official says the UK side see this week as a chance to interrogate the EU on their position regarding the exit bill.

The source said that both sides view this round of negotiations as a chance to deepen their understanding of the other's positions, rather than a moment to strike deals.


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