EU’s Barnier urges UK to accept EU court deal for Brexit

European Union's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier at the EU's General Affairs Council in Brussels. (Reuters)
Updated 26 May 2018
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EU’s Barnier urges UK to accept EU court deal for Brexit

  • Brexit negotiator says Britain playing "hide and seek" by delaying details on trade relationship.
  • UK ministers decry remarks as not "helpful."

BRUSSELS: EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier warned Britain on Saturday that failing to agree a deal on the governance of a withdrawal treaty which preserves the primacy of the EU court would mean no treaty and no transition period.

Barnier also described British delays in spelling out what kind of trade relationship London wants as “a game of hide and seek” in remarks prepared for delivery to a gathering in Portugal of jurists specialized in EU law.

He chided British criticism of EU positions as a “blame game,” urging London to recognize that it could not retain many elements of EU membership after Brexit.

The sharp tone of the former French minister’s remarks follow several days of talks in Brussels between his team of EU negotiators and British counterparts, after which a senior EU official dismissed as “fantasy” both London’s overall proposals for future close relations and an offer to avoid a disruptive “hard border” between Northern Ireland and EU member Ireland.

British ministers said those remarks were not “helpful.”

Barnier said he was ready to have “political level” talks to try to advance in three key areas where uncertainty remains, 10 months before Britain is due to leave in March 2019 — how to rule on future disputes over the withdrawal treaty, a “backstop” solution for the Irish border and a framework for future ties.

Referring to discussions within Prime Minister Theresa May’s government on whether to drop an insistence on having no customs union, he said: “If the United Kingdom would like to change its own red lines, it must tell us. The sooner the better.”
“We are asking for clarity,” he added. “A negotiation cannot be a game of hide and seek.”

On the issue of the governance of a withdrawal treaty, which both sides hope to have ready around October, Barnier repeated the EU’s insistence that primacy of the European Court of Justice inside the Union be maintained in regulating any dispute that could not be resolved by a joint committee appointed by the political leadership of the two sides.

“We cannot accept that a jurisdiction other that the Court of Justice of the European Union determines the law and imposes its interpretation on the institutions of the Union,” he said.

The role of British judges would be respected, he added.

But without an agreement on this, the whole deal would collapse: “Without an agreement on governance, there will be no withdrawal agreement and so no transition period.”

Many businesses are counting on an interim accord to maintain a broad status quo between Britain and the EU after Brexit until the end of 2020.

Barnier, who has been hoping to making substantial progress on key issues before May meets fellow EU leaders at a Brussels summit in a month, also criticized what he called a “blame game” in which British officials were accusing the EU of failing to show flexibility to allow continued close cooperation in areas such as security, the economy and research.

This, Barnier said, was to ignore the close legal framework within the EU which was the basis for trust and cooperation among its nation-state members. “We cannot share this decision-making autonomy with a third country,” he said.

“The United Kingdom must face up to the reality of the Union ... It is one thing to be inside the Union and another to be on the outside.”


Lufthansa announces overhaul of budget carrier Eurowings

Updated 24 June 2019
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Lufthansa announces overhaul of budget carrier Eurowings

  • Lufthansa cited falling revenues at Eurowings as a major reason for its warning on full-year profits on June 16
  • Eurowings’ long-haul business would be managed by Lufthansa in the future

BERLIN: Lufthansa on Monday announced a turnaround plan for Eurowings in which the budget carrier will focus on short-haul flights and seek a 15 percent cut in costs by 2022 in the hope of returning to profit.
The German airline cited falling revenues at Eurowings as a major reason for its warning on full-year profits on June 16. Eurowings’ revenue was also forecast to fall sharply in the second quarter.
Lufthansa said its Eurowings fleet would be standardized on the Airbus A320 family and it would seek to boost productivity at Eurowings by limiting itself in Germany to one air operator’s certificate.
Brussels Airlines — the Belgian national flag carrier which Lufthansa took control of in 2016 — would not be integrated into Eurowings, Lufthansa said. A turnaround plan for Brussels Airlines will be announced in the third quarter.
Lufthansa also said it would start pegging its dividend payout ratio to net profit in the future to give the group more flexibility. It would pay out a regular dividend of 20 percent-40 percent of net profit, adjusted for one-off gains and losses.
Lufthansa said Eurowings’ long-haul business would be managed by Lufthansa in the future.
Carsten Spohr, Chief Executive Officer of Lufthansa, said Monday’s announcements sent “a clear signal that this company cares about its shareholders and tries to create value for them.”
Lufthansa said its Network Airlines — made up of Lufthansa, Swiss and Austrian Airlines — would aim to use innovations in sales and distribution to make a contribution to increasing unit revenues by 3 percent by 2022.
Network Airlines will aim to reduce unit costs continuously by 1 to 2 percent annually, the airline said.