EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has reportedly told Donald Trump to stop talking up Brexit, urging the US president to “stop wishing for others to imitate the British” by leaving the bloc.
The former prime minister of Luxembourg, 62, made the revelation in his latest interview with Politico Europe, published on Thursday 3 August. “We are better organised than the Trump administration,” he added. “That is because if there are any internal difficulties, those difficulties are fixed in a direct conversation instead of by firing people.”
As for his views on the two-year-long divorce talks between Brexit Secretary David Davis and the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier, Juncker said he only spends “as much time as it needs” on the issue, focusing instead on the “the EU’s positive agenda” of “economic growth and investments, migration and security, the development of a common defense policy, and strengthening our trade relationships with Japan, Canada and Latin America”.
The comments come after Trump, who owns golf courses in Scotland and has British heritage, promised a “big and exciting” free trade agreement with the UK after it splits from the EU in 2019.
But Theresa May’s cabinet is still undecided over the length of a possible Brexit transition period, which could see the UK remain in the EU’s single market and customs union until 2022. Britain would not be able to broker its own trade deals with non-EU nations during this time.
Fears have also been raised over a drop in food and drink standards if Britain secured a free trade arrangement with the US, with International Trade Secretary Liam Fox claiming that the British media are “obsessed” with chlorine-washed chicken.
Juncker’s optimism, meanwhile, seems to be shared by a majority of EU nationals, according to a poll of more than 33,100 people across the 28-nation bloc.
The Eurobarometer survey, conducted between 20 and 30 May, found that 56% (+6%) are optimistic about the future of the EU. The most significant increases were observed in France at 55% (+14) and Denmark at 70% (+13). Trust in the EU also continued to rise and stands at 42% (+6). It increased most strongly in France at 41% (+15 points), the figures showed.