BRUSSELS (Reuters) – With Britain still feverishly discussing its Brexit plans, the other 27 European Union states are preparing their joint stance for a top-level summit with British Prime Minister Theresa May on Wednesday.
FILE PHOTO: British Prime Minister Theresa May gives a news conference after a cabinet meeting following yesterday's alternative Brexit options vote, outside Downing Street, London, Britain April 2, 2019. Jack Taylor/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo
Nearly three years since the shock referendum vote to leave the EU, Britains political chaos has forced May to ask the bloc for a second Brexit delay.
Britain was originally due to leave on March 29 but the current date is April 12. Any further postponement would need to be approved unanimously by the 27 nations staying on together after Brexit. And they feel increasingly fatigued.
Playing the bad cop, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said on Monday the blocs patience was wearing thin. On Tuesday, European Council President Donald Tusk took a softer tack, telling the EU: “Let us be patient.”
A balance between the EUs growing exasperation and patience with Brexit will shape the strategic position the 27 adopt at the April 10 summit. Here are the pros and cons of the main options from the blocs point of view.
Unless something else is agreed, Britain will crash out from the bloc as soon as April 12.
The EU talks of growing risk of no-deal Brexit almost daily, partly because it is current legal reality but also to scare the factious UK parliament into accepting the divorce deal May sealed with the bloc but which British lawmakers have rejected three times.
France has led EU states in adopting a tough line towards Britain and calling for accepting no-deal to end the Brexit uncertainty as soon as possible.
But the EU appetite for the most-damaging break is low and exposed countries like Ireland and Belgium are not fully prepared to manage ensuing disruptions.
German Chancellor Angela Merkels strong opposition to no-deal Brexit and the blocs wariness of being assigned blame for any abrupt split means this is not the most likely scenario for next week.
SECOND, SHORT BREXIT DELAY
Between preparing for the worst-case scenario and plotting a long delay, the EU has been somewhat caught by surprise by Mays request for a second, unspecified but short lag. The bloc is waiting to see what comes out of Mays talks with the opposition Labour Party to break the parliamentary impasse over Brexit.
It says London must relay its plan for the summit on Monday or Tuesday morning at the latest to ensure enough time for coordination among the other 27 capitals before the Wednesday evening talks between leaders.
Several EU diplomats said they thought May 22 was as late as a short delay could possibly go, with that date clearly shaping up as the limit of the blocs tolerance. They fear anything beyond that would risk compromising the functioning of the EU.
Juncker said on Wednesday that London would not get another short delay to Brexit unless the UK parliament approves the stalled EU divorce agreement by April 12.
KICKING IT INTO THE LONG GRASS
For Britain to be allowed to stay much longer, the EU 27 have Read More – Source