EU Parliament chiefs say not enough Brexit progress

Pro-European Union demonstrators protest in London on Tuesday. Some EU leaders say Britain is dragging its heels in divorce talks. (AFP)
Updated 13 September 2017

EU Parliament chiefs say not enough Brexit progress

BRUSSELS: European Parliament Brexit chief Guy Verhofstadt warned Tuesday there had not been enough progress in talks so far to move on to negotiations on a future EU-Britain trade deal.
European Union leaders are set to decide at a summit in late October whether talks on divorce issues, including the bill Britain must pay, have made enough headway to start discussions on future relations.
Verhofstadt urged British Prime Minister Theresa May to address the parliament as part of the negotiating process, but another senior MEP warned she would be “out of her depth.”
Verhofstadt, a former Belgian prime minister, told a news conference in Strasbourg, France, where the parliament is meeting: “For the moment we don’t see sufficient progress, clearly.”
MEPs are set to vote on a motion early next month about whether there has been enough progress.
The European Parliament will have the final vote on any Brexit deal when Britain leaves in March 2019.
Verhofstadt said May should give a speech to all 750 members of the European Parliament in public, after she said she would only address its top officials behind closed doors.
Manfred Weber, the head of the largest group in the EU parliament, the European People’s Party, agreed that “the progress is not really that strong.”
“It seems to be that Great Britain is still thinking that they can follow the full cherry picking approach, I think that will not work,” said Weber, a German MEP who is a key ally of Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Brussels insists Britain cannot “cherry pick” benefits of EU membership, such as the single market, while opting out of things it doesn’t like, such as open immigration of European nationals.
It also says Britain — which voted to leave the EU in a referendum last year — must settle the divorce terms first before discussing a future trade deal.
With the European Parliament effectively having a veto on any Brexit deal, its members say Britain needs to do more to convince them.
Greens leader Philippe Lambaerts said that May “gives me the impression of being, to use an English expression, out of her depth.”
“If I was her media consultant I would tell her not to come here because she would have to take more punches than she would be able to give.”


Japanese officials cautious on prospects for US trade deal

Updated 17 September 2019

Japanese officials cautious on prospects for US trade deal

  • A long-sought trade pact with Japan was scrapped when Donald Trump withdrew the US from a pan-Pacific trade agreement shortly after taking office in 2017
  • Trump said he preferred that Washington and Tokyo strike a bilateral deal

TOKYO: Officials in Japan appeared wary over the prospects for a trade deal with the US after President Donald Trump said he was prepared to sign a pact soon.
Japan’s chief government spokesman, Yoshihide Suga, said Tuesday that the two sides are still finalizing details after reaching a basic agreement in late August on trade in farm products, digital trade and other industries.
Suga said Trump and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe are considering signing a deal in late September when they attend the UN General Assembly in New York.
“We are accelerating the work that still remains,” he said. “But I decline to comment further because we have not reached a formal agreement.”
Trump’s notice to Congress, released by the White House on Monday, did not mention tariffs on autos and parts, long a sticking point between the two countries.
It said his administration was looking forward to collaborating with lawmakers on a deal that would result in “more fair and reciprocal trade” between the two countries.
Toshimitsu Motegi, who became foreign minister last week after negotiating the deal as economy minister, said Japan must watch carefully to prevent Washington from forcing any last-minute changes, Kyodo News agency reported.
The agricultural minister, Taku Eto, cautioned against letting down Tokyo’s guard until the final agreement is reached, it said.
A long-sought trade agreement with Japan was scrapped when Trump withdrew the US from a pan-Pacific trade agreement shortly after taking office in 2017.
Japan and the other 10 remaining members of the trade pact, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, then renegotiated their own deal without the US
Trump said he preferred that Washington and Tokyo strike a bilateral deal.
That resurrected the longtime issue of tariffs on Japanese car and auto parts exports to the US and of stiffer duties on US exports of farm and other products to Japan.