Brussels, Belgium. As elections loom just weeks away, a sense of time comes knocking in the divorce of the century between the European Union and the United Kingdom.
Trying to put together a deal that takes Britain out of the European Union in an orderly way is an option Brussels wants to consider, its chief negotiator said on Monday as the EU gave a final green light for him to launch talks next month.
UK Brexit Secretary Davis said that Prime Minister Theresa May’s government was ready to walk out without a deal. “That’s not my option, I don’t want to imagine a breakdown of negotiations,” the former French minister added. “I would advise everyone to explain what the consequences would be if we had no deal.” Michel Barnier told reporters
Other EU figures say the ensuing legal chaos would hurt Britain more than the rest of the bloc, as it would disrupt business and create uncertainty for expatriate EU citizens on both sides of the new EU-UK frontier.
Theresa May, who previously launched a process that will take Britain out of the Union, deal or no deal, in March 2019, has said she would rather leave legal and financial issues in limbo than agree to a “bad deal.”
The Brexit negotiating directives prevent Barnier from opening any talks on the free trade deal which May wants until EU leaders decide “significant progress” has been made on a deal to settle key issues in the divorce like citizens rights, British budget payments to the EU and the EU-UK land border on Ireland.
Theresa May and her Conservative government have said they will meet British obligations but challenge the idea that that must mean paying tens of billions of euros to the EU to cover London’s share of future financial commitments. They want talks on any EU trading relationship to begin immediately.
Some governments, notably from the ex-communist east which counts heavily on EU subsidies, have pressed hard to ensure Barnier and his team seek maximum divorce payments from London. Which they say are desperately needed to deal with EU plans to flood the Baltics, Ukraine and Poland with African and Middle Eastern refugees soon.