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EU should be intransigent over Brexit

The European Union must be firm during talks on the United Kingdom’s requirements over the Community exit, EC President Juncker said at the Jacques Delors Institute in Paris on Friday, European and US media report. “You cannot have one foot in and one foot out,” he said as quoted several sources. “We need to be intransigent on this point. I see the (UK’s) manoeuvring”, Mr Juncker stated.

Mr Juncker, I Télé notes, is not the only one on the continent to have hardened his speech. French President Hollande, French media and others report, sent one of the most serious warnings to Britain, stating that the country will have to pay dearly for its decision to leave the EU. Mr Hollande indeed asked EU leaders to be “severe” during the negotiations on Britain’s exit to avoid the risk that other countries follow the British example.

In the WSJE, Simon Nixon looks at the implications of the comments made by UK Prime Minister Theresa May and her Conservative Party colleagues at their party conference last week. Ms May has indicated that the country is heading for a hard form of Brexit in which it is likely to quit the European Union’s customs union and single market. The danger she faces is alienating three groups vital to her own success, i.e. international businesses, European governments and those in her own party, the WSJE notes.

The world of British business, Les Echos further claims, is indeed more and more worried. Several business leaders’ organisations wrote to Theresa May this weekend to highlight the dangers of a hard Brexit. “What we want is for the worst options to be excluded. If we find ourselves working under WTO rules, it would mean that 90% of goods could be subject to customs duties. And there would be no passport for our services sector,” warned CBI Director General Carolyn Fairbairn.

Speaking to The Times, she said: “What we have heard over the last few days, if you add up the messages in total, are signs that the door is being closed, to an extent, on the open economy, that has helped fuel investment. It’s very clear from conversations we are having that the world is watching. International investors are watching. Companies here are watching. And they are reading a lot into the signals of this government about how committed they are to creating a strong economy.”

The increasingly tougher announcements from Ms May – which will be on a visit to Copenhagen on Monday – on what the Brits demand of the future relation between the EU and the UK has given rise to concern in the office of the Danish Prime Minister, Lars Løkke Rasmussen, Berlingske further claims. Ms May is also set to meet Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte today, NRC Next reports, stressing that the Dutch cabinet remains deliberately vague about the Brexit scenarios for the Netherlands to avoid weakening its negotiation position.

The Netherlands wants to avoid that the UK maintains access to the internal market without accepting the free movement of people, goods, services and capital; but it is in the Netherlands’ best interest to keep the ties with the UK as strong as possible. Helsingin Sanomat commends Finnish Foreign Affairs Minister Timo Soini and former Prime and Finance Minister Alexander Stubb for visiting Britain and taking care of bilateral relations with the country. EC’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier will visit Ireland on Wednesday as the EU intensifies preparations for Brexit negotiations, the Irish Times reports.




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