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.”


Airbus warns could leave Britain if no Brexit deal

Updated 22 June 2018
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Airbus warns could leave Britain if no Brexit deal

  • Industry analysts say Airbus would be unlikely to pull out of the UK abruptly because of long lead times and waiting lists for its planes
  • Airbus, which makes wings for all its passenger jets in the UK, said that leaving both the EU’s single market and customs union immediately

PARIS: European aviation giant Airbus warned Thursday it could be forced to pull out of the UK if Britain leaves the European Union without a deal.
In a Brexit risk assessment, Airbus said Britain withdrawing from the EU without a deal “would lead to severe disruption and interruption of UK production.”
“This scenario would force Airbus to reconsider its investments in the UK, and its long-term footprint in the country, severely undermining UK efforts to keep a competitive and innovative aerospace industry, developing high value jobs and competences,” it warned.
“Put simply, a no deal scenario directly threatens Airbus’ future in the UK,” Tom Williams, chief operating officer of Airbus Commercial Aircraft, said in a statement.
In its risk assessment, Airbus said under a “no deal” scenario, delays and disruptions to its production could cost it up to one billion euros ($1.2 billion) a week in lost turnover.
It said a no-deal Brexit “would be catastrophic” for the aviation group.
Airbus employs 14,000 people at more than 25 sites in Britain, where it manufactures the wings of its aircraft.
“In any scenario, Brexit has severe negative consequences for the UK aerospace industry and Airbus in particular,” Williams said.
“While Airbus understands that the political process must go on, as a responsible business we require immediate details on the pragmatic steps that should be taken to operate competitively,” he said.
“Without these, Airbus believes that the impacts on our UK operations could be significant. We have sought to highlight our concerns over the past 12 months, without success.”
On the future trade relationship between Britain and the EU, Airbus said the current transition period, which runs until December 2020, “is too short for the EU and UK Governments to agree the outstanding issues, and too short for Airbus to implement the required changes with its extensive supply chain.”
“In this scenario, Airbus would carefully monitor any new investments in the UK and refrain from extending the UK suppliers/partners base.”
Britain is due to leave the European Union in March 2019 but continue the current trading arrangements during the transition phase to December 2020 to give time for the two sides to agree the terms of a new partnership.