EU chief Brexit negotiator preparing for a no-deal Brexit
20 May 2019, 20:53 ( 26 days ago)
The European Union (EU) is preparing for the worst Brexit scenario, a no deal exit of the United Kingdom from the bloc, EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said here on Monday.
"We have offered all options to the United Kingdom, from the Single Market to the Customs Union or a Free Trade Agreement. We are now waiting for clarity from the United Kingdom. In the meantime, we keep preparing for a no deal. This is not and will not be the EU's choice. It is for the UK to take its responsibilities," Barnier said after talks with Foreign Minister Nicos Christodoulides.
Barnier's talks in Nicosia came as the deeply divided British parliament is preparing to vote on a reported new bill to deal with Brexit.
"Today, the fundamental choices in front of the United Kingdom remain the same: deal, no deal, no Brexit," Barnier said.
"Whatever happens and whatever the political situation in the UK, the issues and solutions remain the same," he added.
Barnier said that if the United Kingdom still wants to leave, ratifying the withdrawal agreement is the only way to secure a transition period to sort out its negotiations position.
"This transition period would also give time to both sides to figure out what specific arrangements are necessary in relation to the Northern Irish border on top of the overall EU/UK relationship," he said.
Barnier also met with Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades discussing possible arrangements for the areas of Cyprus which constitute British military bases.
Britain has under its control two areas totaling 254 square kilometers or 3 percent of Cypriot territory, which are technically British soil, creating a condition very similar with that in Ireland in case of a no deal Brexit.
Christodoulides said that what Cyprus wants is to safeguard that the existing arrangements on the bases which have no visible frontiers will not change and that the life of those residing or working in the British areas will not deteriorate.
Barnier said that the common objective is to preserve the status quo and avoid disrupting the life of the people living in the bases, adding that all necessary measure will be taken to achieve this objective.
Barnier also met with the parliamentary foreign affairs committee, telling the Cypriot parliamentarians that EU will stand in solidarity with Cyprus to deal with all possible effects of a no-deal Brexit. Committee President Giorgos Lillikas told reporters that what he got out of the meeting is that EU has prepared for all possible Brexit scenarios.