Theresa May's Brexit speeches still don't provide enough clarity for a deal, EU says
Theresa Mayâs has still not provided enough clarity on what sort of relationship she wants with the EU after Brexit despite her latest Mansion House speech earlier this month, the European Union has warned.
Speaking in the European Parliament in Strasbourg Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European Commission, warned that the âutmost clarityâ as needed from Britain, especially on the issue of the Irish border.
âPrime Minister May, give us some more clarity on how the UK sees its future relationship with the European Union,â he said.
- Read more
David Davis hasn't visited Brussels for Brexit talks yet this year
âItâs obvious that we need future clarity from the UK if we are to reach an understanding on our future relationship.
âAs the clock comes down with one year to go it is now time to translate speeches into treaties, to turn commitments into agreements, broad suggestions and wishes on the future relationship into specific workable solutions.â
The rebuke will come as a disappointment to British negotiators because Ms Mayâs speech was billed as a way of clearing up the UKâs position on Brexit.
Mr Junckerâs words were echoed by Monika Panayotova, the Bulgarian minister responsible for the countryâs chairing of the European Council.
âEven though in the last fourteen months there has been a succession of speeches outlining the UK view on the future of our relations, we still need more concrete and more operational proposals,â she told MEPs.
âAt the same time there are no indications that the UK red lines have changed since last year. All this explains why the draft guidelines due to be adopted by the European Council are not more details. This will hopefully provide the political space for broader dynamics in the negotiations with the United Kingdom.â
European Parliament Brexit coordinator Guy Verhofstadt said: âThe problem is today we donât have a proposal from the UK side on the future relationship. Itâs still lacking.
âItâs true, there was this Mansion House speech by Mrs May, but it is mainly repeating the red lines that weâve known already for two years.âTheresa May's Mansion House speech
He added: âI think after all the speeches we have heard now we go beyond the slogans, the sound bites.â
Mr Juncker singled out the Irish border issue and said the UK should come forward with âconcrete solutionsâ to address it if it wanted to avoid the back-stop of keeping full alignment with single market rules, agreed in December.
Brexit talks: Top issues facing UK on leaving EU
- 7 show all
Brexit talks: Top issues facing UK on leaving EU
1/7 Customs union
A key point in the negotiations remains Britain's access to, or withdrawal from, the EU customs union. Since the referendum there has been hot debate over the meaning of Brexit: would it entail a full withdrawal from the existing agreement, known as hard Brexit, or th e soft version in which we would remain part of a common customs area for most goods, as Turkey does? No 10 has so far insisted that âBrexit means Brexitâ and that Britain will be leaving the customs union, but may be inclined to change its position once the potential risks to the UKâs economic outlook become clearer.
2/7 Northern Ireland-Irish border
Though progress was made last year, there has still been no solid agreement on whether there should be a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. To ensure borderless travel on the island, the countries must be in regulatory alignment and therefore adhere to the same rules as the customs union. In December, the Conservative Partyâs coalition partners, the DUP, refused a draft agreement that would place the UK/EU bor der in the Irish Sea due to its potential to undermine the union. May has promised that would not be the case and has suggested that a âspecific solutionâ would need to be found.
3/7 Transition period
Despite protests from a small number of Conservative MPs, the Government and the EU are largely in agreement that a transitional period is needed after Brexit. The talks, however, have reached an impasse. Though May has agreed that the UK will continue to contribute to the EU budget until 2021, the PM wants to be able to select which laws made during this time the UK will have to adhere to. Chief negotiator Michel Barnier (seen here with EU Minister David Davis) has said the UK must adopt all of the laws passed during the transition, without any input from British ministers or MEPs.
4/7 Rights of EU citizens living the UK
The Prime Minister has promised EU citizens already living in the UK the right to live and work here after Brexit, but the rights of those who arrive after Brexit day remains unclear. May insists that those who arrive during the transition period should not be allowed to stay, whereas the EU believe the cut-off point should be later.
5/7 Future trade agreement (with the EU)
Despite this being a key issue in negotiations, the Government has yet to lay out exactly what it wants from a trade deal with the EU. Infighting within the Cabinet has prevented a solid position from being reached, w ith some MPs content that "no deal is better than a bad deal" while others rally behind single market access. The EU has already confirmed that access to the single market would be impossible without the UK remaining in the customs union.
6/7 Future trade agreements (internationally)
The Government has already begun trying to woo foreign leaders into prospective trade agreements, with various high profile state visits to China, India and Canada for May, and the now infamous invitation to US President Donald Trump to visit London. However the UK cannot make trade agreements with another country while it is still a member of the EU, and the potential loss of trade with the world's major powers is a source of anxiety for the PM. The EU has said the UK cannot secure trade deals during the transition period.
7/7 Financial services
Banks in the UK will be hit hard regardless of the Brexit outcome. The EU has refused to give British banks passporting rights to trade within the EU, dashing hopes of a special City deal. However according to new reports Germany has suggested allowing trade on the condition that the UK continues paying into the EU budget even after the transition period.
Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council, warned last week that talks from now on would be âIreland firstâ and that it had to be agreed before other issues would be addressed.
British officials deny this ultimatum amounted to talks being frozen at the issue until it can be resolved, but the schedu le for this weekâs discussions show that they will almost exclusively focus on the same âseparationâ issues that were the subject of the December agreement, including the Irish border â" with only one line in the schedule designated for transition talks.
- More about:
- Jean-Claude Juncker
- European Parliament
- Monika Panayotova
- Irish border