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Juncker on Brexit: EU-wide coverage

Several media outlets, e.g., Hospodářské noviny, The Irish Independent,, and published statements European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker made yesterday, during an interview with France 2’s Les 4 Vérités. Speaking about the outcome of the British referendum, he said that there is no deadline for Britain to start talks on leaving the EU. “I would have preferred the UK presents us its letter of resignation, so to speak, as soon as possible, as I had thought that the British, especially those who wanted to leave the EU, would have prepared for this possibility,” EC President Juncker stressed.

However, it is not the case and the UK government will need several months to fine tune its position, he added. The EC President is also quoted in The Times, underlining that Great Britain will have to accept EU rules including free movement “without exception” if it wants to retain full access to the single market. He denied he was taking a harsh stance and said that it was “common sense.” “It reflects the philosophy of the European project itself,” he further pointed out. An editorial in The Daily Mail criticises EC President Juncker’s words about the access to the single market’s, arguing that the EU’s future rests on “free trade – and rigorous border controls”.

In related news, Die Presse and Greek media, among others, note that the talks between Great Britain and the EU member states, which have not been officially taken up yet, seem to be picking up momentum. That Austrian daily reports that The Observer mentions information from diplomats that the idea of a temporary “emergency brake” for the access of EU citizens to the British job market with Great Britain remaining a member of the union’s single market is currently being considered. The European Commission declined to comment on the report but one spokesperson spoke of “wishful thinking,” as Die Presse reports.

While the Greek press adds that it appears that London and Brussels have already started the preparatory work at a technical level for a “divorce by mutual consent,” notes that EC President Juncker denied allegations reported by the Sunday edition of The Guardian, which claimed that certain allowances have been promised to Britons in behind-the-scenes negotiations. De Morgen reports that in exchange for a considerable contribution to the EU budget, the UK would be granted access to the European internal market and allowed to limit the movement of people if the rights of EU citizens are protected.

High Representative / Vice-President Federica Mogherini’s adviser Nathalie Tocci argued it would be similar to the 2004 EU enlargement which temporarily limited free movement of people. A survey for The Daily Express has revealed that 98% of respondents believe the decision to leave the EU should be enacted now instead of Britain becoming embroiled in lengthy discussions with Brussels officials.

One option, backed by Labour Leave, is to trigger Article 50 by repealing the 1972 European Communities Act and then informing the EU that the UK is no longer a member but intends to trade tariff-free. Among today’s comments on both Brexit and the EU, Arnaud Teyssier speaks of the “serious legitimacy crisis” the EU is currently undergoing – in an opinion piece for Le Figaro. He notes that criticism has regularly denounced the action of “technocrats in Brussels” and the “democratic deficit” in the EU. Cursing British voters for deciding to leave the Union is yet another way “not to draw lessons from the Brexit” and shy away from “the real dangers” threatening the continent, stresses Mr Theyssier.

In a positive tone towards the outcome of the British referendum, Historian W.H. Roobol’s believes, in an interview granted to NRC, that there is no reason to panic. “The Brits will reduce the damage for their country as much as possible by undoing Brexit, or by entering an association agreement with Brussels like Norway and Switzerland,” he said. In a Dagens Nyheter commentary, Matilda Molander says that the majority of people in Germany, France, Poland, Spain, Belgium and Italy are in favour of EU membership. The outcome of the British referendum seems to have increased the generally positive attitude in many EU member states, she stresses, adding that Brexit could show what was needed in the Union to make citizens appreciate its advantages.

Criticism of the EU is also still expressed. In L’Opinion, Jean-Pascal Tricoire says that, from a political point of view, Brexit raises the question of the necessary change of role of the European Commission, as European governance in general is not well understood. In a Portuguese item, Fernando Sobral writes that Brussels is handling very badly with the situations which are taking place in the EU member states. European leaders, according to him, do not understand the real problems the EU is facing.

Meanwhile, El Pais also reports that European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker yesterday expressed on France 2 his sympathies for US democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, while Diário de Notícias notes that the EC President also stated he would not have accepted José Manuel Barroso’s job in Goldman Sachs, making clear, however, that his predecessor had followed the rules.



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