Reacting to the news coverage that British PM Theresa May is on her way to negotiating UK access to the single market with an additional rebate and a 7 to 10 year emergency break on EU-migration, Guy Verhofstadt, leader of the Liberals and Democrats in the European Parliament said today:
“A deal with these conditions would be unthinkable. It would allow the UK to expand its already very favourable position: keeping the best parts and ridding itself of the obligations that come with it. EU Governments would be mad to agree to such a deal and I can tell you: the European Parliament will never agree to a deal that ‘de facto’ ends the free movement of people for a decade,while giving away an extra rebate in exchange for all the advantages of the internal market.
What would stop other countries from asking the same exceptional status? Do we really want eurosceptics elsewhere in Europe to invoke the British example of ‘having their cake and eating it’? Everyone can see that this position is irresponsible because it’s not sustainable in the long run.
The only new relationship between Britain and the European Union can be one in which the UK has an associated status with less obligations but equally less rights. And if this is not feasible, the fall back position will be an ordinary trade agreement between Britain and the EU.”
Verhofstadt also points out a deeper problem with the current deal making process: “By solving our problems this way – with more and more exceptions to the rules – we only create new precedents and thus, new problems. The way the Commission is tackling the Brexit negotiations is comparable to the way it has addressed the rule of law crisis in Turkey: closing its eyes. The Commission must learn to adopt a clear stand point and – if necessary – be willing to make a clean cut, whether it be with Britain or with Turkey. The EU should not conduct accession negotiations with a government that cleansed part of the judiciary branch and basically switched off the rule of law. The negotiations with the Turkey should therefore be frozen.”