Senior MEP Terry Reintke has appealed to the UK to ask the EU for an extension to the Brexit transition period beyond 31 December. Her appeal comes with the talks deadlocked and growing pessimism about a no-deal exit.
The two sides will conclude the fourth round of talks on Friday, with insiders saying little progress has been made on key areas such as fisheries and the so-called level playing field. If there is to be an extension both sides must agree to this by 1 July.
As the latest round of talks draw to a close, Reintke, a German Greens deputy, told The Parliament Magazine, "To avoid a disastrous outcome for both sides, an extension is what is needed in these more than special circumstances.”
She continued, “My appeal is: Extend the deadline and take the time to negotiate a good deal for both sides. A no-deal scenario will put all citizens and their rights at risk."
The EU says any request for a delay beyond the end of this year must come from the UK, but British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has consistently ruled out an extension.
Elsewhere, Dr Denis Macshane, the UK’s former Europe Minister under Tony Blair’s leadership, says the current talks are “close to pointless.”
On Thursday, he told this magazine, “Britain as an independent sovereign state can decide its destiny when it wants. We can talk or we can walk. Today, another round of Zoom negotiations ends.”
"To avoid a disastrous outcome for both sides, an extension is what is needed in these more than special circumstances" MEP Terry Reintke (DE, Greens/EFA)
He continued, “Right now, the talking is close to pointless as no international treaty can be hammered out without face-to-face contacts between negotiators.”
“They then have to refer up to their superiors, hold meetings that never happen and go out for a coffee to find words to get over seemingly impossible conflicting positions.”
The former Labour cabinet minister said, “No one in a single EU capital and hardly anyone in Brussels is paying attention to Brexit. Instead, they are focused on mitigating the effects of the Coronavirus and how to rebuild what will be a shuttered and shattered economy, from Galway to Galicia.”
“Brandishing the threat of a no-deal Brexit as the [UK] Prime Minister keeps doing is childish.”
He added, “Boris Johnson is clearly unwell; as we see with endless confusing and contradictory statements he makes like saying every unemployed youngster in Britain should be offered an apprenticeship, or begging EU workers to return to pick fruit, or saying the 3.5 million Chinese in Hong Kong can come and live in Britain.”
"Brandishing the threat of a no-deal Brexit as the [UK] Prime Minister keeps doing is childish" Denis Macshane, former UK Minister for Europe
“He needs a rest and Britain needs a break from Brexit. Britain should adopt Churchill’s policy that jaw-jaw is better than war-war and keep talking calmly through the summer and into the autumn to find solutions that do not damage economic links.”
He continued, “They must also ensure that the UK’s draft treaty allows British business executives and professionals to work freely in Europe, and that it maintains police and security agency access to European data on criminals and terrorists.”
“Those talks can continue into 2021 if needed. We have left the EU. There is no need to hurry things along just for the sake of an artificial deadline.”
Further comment comes from former UK Labour MP Roger Casale, now Secretary General of New Europeans, who said, "Michel Barnier must be asking himself whether the UK is negotiating in good faith.”
"We must all insist on an extension of the talks to avoid a Boris Johnson made disaster for the UK which will also impact negatively on the rest of Europe" Roger Casale, Secretary General of New Europeans
“A neutral outsider could be forgiven for thinking Boris Johnson' wants to undermine multi-lateral talks by striking bilateral agreements with Member States such as the one with Poland on voting rights, and that he is preparing to blame the economic fall-out of a no deal Brexit on the COVID-19 crisis.”
He continued, “We must all insist on an extension of the talks to avoid a Boris Johnson made disaster for the UK which will also impact negatively on the rest of Europe"
Elsewhere, Jayne Adye, director of the Get Britain Out group, has accused Member States of not doing enough to protect the 1.5 million British citizens in Europe, saying, “The UK’s Settled Worker Scheme has been operational since March 2019 and actually offers many more comprehensive assurances for EU nationals living in the UK than the Withdrawal Agreement compensates for.”
"The Withdrawal Agreement is supposed to be upheld and implemented by both sides and at the moment, the EU and Member States are failing to uphold their end of the bargain" Jayne Adye, director of the Get Britain Out group
She continued, “On the other side of the Channel, there has been no such preparation or haste from the Member States to secure UK citizens’ rights.”
“The Withdrawal Agreement is supposed to be upheld and implemented by both sides and at the moment, the EU and Member States are failing to uphold their end of the bargain – putting the lives of British expatriates at a real risk of huge change and therefore insecure.”
She finished, “This is an important area which needs to be addressed before the end of the transition period in seven months’ time.”