[Rushtalk] EU parliament leader: we want Britain out as soon as possible
cwsiv at juno.com
Sun Jul 3 12:47:53 MDT 2016
EU parliament leader: we want Britain out as soon as possible
President Martin Schulz says speeding up of UK exit being considered
after ‘continent taken hostage because of Tory party fight’
EU referendum outcome - live
Martin Schulz speaking in Berlin earlier this week.
Martin Schulz said there would be consequences from Britain cutting ties
with the world’s biggest single market. Photograph: John
Jennifer Rankin and Jon Henley in Brussels, Philip Oltermann in Berlin
and Helena Smith in Athens
Friday 24 June 2016 19.47 BST
A senior EU leader has confirmed the bloc wants Britain out as soon as
possible, warning that David Cameron’s decision to delay the start of
Brexit negotiations until his successor is in place may not be fast
Cameron announced on Friday morning that he would step down as prime
minister by the autumn, after the British public caused a political
earthquake by voting 52%-48% to leave the European Union.
Martin Schulz, the president of the European parliament, told the
Guardian that EU lawyers were studying whether it was possible to speed
up the triggering of article 50 of the Lisbon treaty – the untested
procedure for leaving the union.
As the EU’s institutions scrambled to respond to the bodyblow of
Britain’s exit, Schulz said uncertainty was “the opposite of what we
need”, adding that it was difficult to accept that “a whole continent is
taken hostage because of an internal fight in the Tory party”.
“I doubt it is only in the hands of the government of the United
Kingdom,” he said. “We have to take note of this unilateral declaration
that they want to wait until October, but that must not be the last
Schulz’s comments were partially echoed by the president of the European
commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, who said he there was no reason to wait
until October to begin negotiating Britain’s departure from the European
“Britons decided yesterday that they want to leave the European Union,
so it doesn’t make any sense to wait until October to try to negotiate
the terms of their departure,” Juncker said in an interview with
Germany’s ARD television station. “I would like to get started
As the pound fell to its lowest level since 1985 amid fears that the
Brexit vote could spark a fresh global financial crisis, the governor of
the Bank of England stepped in on Friday to calm financial markets.
Mark Carney said Threadneedle Street was ready to do whatever was needed
to mitigate the impact of Britain’s historic vote to leave the EU. City
traders quickly responded by placing bets on an interest rate cut by the
end of the year.
With anti-European sentiment on the rise across the continent, national
governments outside Europe’s capital sought urgently to prevent any
contagion from the UK vote, urging swift reforms to the 60-year-old
bloc. Calls for similar referendums were made in France, the Netherlands
Cameron, who had campaigned hard but ultimately unsuccessfully to keep
Britain in the EU, emerged outside No 10 Downing Street just after 8am
on Friday to announce his departure, accompanied by his wife, Samantha.
“I was absolutely clear about my belief that Britain is stronger, safer
and better off inside the EU,” he said. “I made clear the referendum was
about this, and this alone, not the future of any single politician,
“But the British people made a different decision to take a different
path. As such I think the country requires fresh leadership to take it
in this direction.”
Cameron said in his resignation speech that it would be up to his
successor – expected to be appointed before the Conservative party
conference in October – to trigger article 50. Once that is done, the
clock starts running on two years of negotiations.
Boris Johnson, the former mayor of London and a leading leave
campaigner, said there should be “no haste” in the preparations for the
exit of Britain, the first sovereign country to vote to leave the union.
The president of the European council, Donald Tusk, said the 27
remaining members of the bloc would meet next week to assess its future
without Britain. “It is a historic moment, but not a moment for
hysterical reactions,” he said.
In Berlin, the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, expressed “great
regret” at Britain’s decision, but said the EU should not draw “quick
and simple conclusions” that might create new and deeper divisions.
The Handelsblatt newspaper said a leaked eight-page emergency Brexit
plan suggested the German government should push for an “associative
status” for Britain after two years of “difficult divorce negotiations”.
The document indicated that Germany would drive a hard bargain to “avoid
offering false incentives for other member states when settling on new
arrangements”. Specifically, the paper advocates “no automatic access to
the single market”, Handelsblatt reported on Friday afternoon.
While Brussels talked tough, a chorus of European capitals, anxious to
avoid clashes with their own Eurosceptic citizens, stressed that the
Brexit vote should be seen as a wake-up call for a union that was
increasingly losing touch with its people.
The German chancellor, Angela Merkel
Speaking in Paris, the French president, François Hollande, said he
“profoundly regretted” the Brexit vote but that the EU now had to make
changes. In a brief televised statement, Hollande said the vote would
put Europe to the test: “To move forward, Europe cannot act as before.”
Mark Rutte, the prime minister of the Netherlands, which holds the EU’s
rotating presidency, said the EU “has to become more relevant, deliver
added value to our lives: jobs, growth, control of our external
He said he personally felt “this strong discontent with Europe, the
Europe of the lofty speeches. Most of my EU colleagues also share this
view. They too don’t want any more big visions, conventions and
Italy’s foreign minister, Paolo Gentiloni, said the EU must relaunch
“common policies for growth, for migration and common defence”, while
the Austrian chancellor, Christian Kern, said Brussels needed a clear
reform process to boost economies, stem unemployment and improve working
Sigmar Gabriel, the head of Germany’s Social Democrats, Merkel’s
coalition partners, said the British vote was a “shrill wake-up call”
for European politicians. “Whoever fails to heed it or takes refuge in
the usual rituals, will drive Europe against the wall.”
The Belgian prime minister, Charles Michel, called for a special
“conclave” of EU leaders as early as next month. “We need to keep a cool
head and need to see what new way of cooperation would be possible,” he
Poland’s foreign minister, Witold Waszczykowski, said the result showed
“disillusionment with European integration, and declining trust in the
EU”. He sought to reassure at least 850,000 Poles living in Britain that
“during talks (...) we will aim to guarantee the rights citizens have
The Italian prime minister, Matteo Renzi, tweeted: “We must change it to
make it more human and more just. But Europe is our home, it’s our
future.” Lars Loekke Rasmussen, the Danish prime minister, said Denmark
“belongs in Europe” but that mounting Euroscepticism must be taken
In Greece, there was concern that the referendum result would intensify
anti-European sentiment. “In the short term, Brexit may help Greece,
because our allies will want to solidify and show solidarity,” a senior
minister told the Guardian. “But in the long term, it will not. The
prospect of Grexit will increase.”
Turkey, whose future membership of the EU played a key role in the UK
referendum campaign, cast doubt on the likelihood of it joining in the
aftermath of the Brexit vote. “The European Union’s disintegration has
started,” deputy prime minister Nurettin Canikli tweeted. “Britain was
the first to jump ship.”
Schulz’s stark comments followed an earlier joint statement with the
presidents of the European council and commission, Tusk and Jean-Claude
Juncker, as well as Rutte, warning that the EU would expect Britain to
act “as soon as possible, however painful the process may be” and that
there could be “no renegotiation”.
The four said after emergency talks in Brussels that they regretted, but
respected Britain’s decision. “This is an unprecedented situation, but
we are united in our response.”
While the UK would remain a member until exit negotiations were
concluded, they said, Europe expected it to “give effect to this
decision ... as soon as possible”. The special settlement negotiated by
Cameron earlier this year was void and could not be renegotiated, they
Schulz said he would speak to Merkel about “how to avoid a chain
reaction” of other EU states following Britain.
“The chain reaction being celebrated everywhere now by Eurosceptics
won’t happen,” he said, adding that the EU was the world’s biggest
single market and “Britain has just cut its ties with that market.
That’ll have consequences, and I don’t believe other countries will be
encouraged to follow that dangerous path.”
Manfred Weber, the chairman of the European People’s party group of
centre-right parties in the European parliament, stressed that Britain
had crossed a line and there was no going back. “There cannot be any
special treatment,” he said. “Leave means leave.”
The UK was the EU’s second-largest economy and largest military power.
It will embark on the process of leaving as the union grapples with
multiple crises: huge numbers of migrants, economic weakness and a
nationalist Russia seeking to overturn the post-cold war order.
The UK has to negotiate two exit agreements: a divorce treaty to wind
down British contributions to the EU budget and settle the status of the
1.2 million Britons living in the EU and 3 million EU citizens in the
UK; and an agreement to govern future trade and other ties with its
Tusk has estimated that both agreements could take seven years to settle
“without any guarantee of success”. Most Brussels insiders think this
There were early warnings of difficulties ahead. The German MEP Elmar
Brok, who chairs the European parliament’s committee on foreign affairs,
told the Guardian the parliament would call on Juncker to strip the
British commissioner, Jonathan Hill, of the financial services brief
with immediate effect and turn him into a “commissioner without
He said: “They will have to negotiate from the position of a third
country, not as a member state. If Britain wants to have a similar
status to Switzerland and Norway, then it will also have to pay into EU
structural funds like those countries do. The British public will find
out what that means.”
Jean-Claude Piris, a former head of the EU council legal service, said
claims that Britain would get unfettered access to the single market,
without free movement of people, were the equivalent of believing in
Father Christmas. He said the British “cannot get as good a deal as they
have now, it is impossible”.
Some Brussels insiders fear France and Germany may soften their approach
after the vote. Others think countries, especially France, will push for
a harsh settlement to hammer home the price of leaving.
One likely outcome of negotiations is that banks and financial firms in
the City of London will be stripped of their lucrative EU “passports”
that allow them to sell services to the rest of the EU.
In theory, the UK retains the decision-making privileges of membership;
in reality, power will rapidly drain away and British diplomats can
expect to be marginalised in the councils of Brussels.
The UK will keep its veto in some areas, such as tax and foreign policy,
but diplomats say Britain’s voice on other EU decisions, for example, on
economics and business, will count for little.
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