EU Must Not Be ‘Prisoner’ to Brexit Delays, Macron Warns Keeping Tough Line on UK
The French President has been perceived as the least compromising EU leader on Brexit.
French President Emmanuel Macron has declared that the European Union must not remain a “prisoner” to the delays and other unknowns of Brexit after the European Council Summit he participated in granted the UK a “small” extension on leaving.
Of all EU 27 state leaders, Macron is believed to have been taking the toughest line with Britain on Brexit, including on its delaying, as he has been seeking to focus on reforming the EU and leading it forward instead.
France’s core EU partner Germany, on the other hand, has been more compromise-oriented, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel pledging to fight for an “orderly Brexit” till the end, and speaking of a future close relationship between the EU and the UK.
“The European project must not remain a prisoner to Brexit,” French leader Macron told reporters on Friday, as cited by Reuters and France24.
According to the conclusions of the European Council Summit, the European Union granted the UK an extension on Brexit from the originally set date of March 29, 2019, in response to Wednesday’s request by British Prime Minister Theresa May.
The Brexit extension will be until May 22, the day before the 2019 EU Elections, if the British Parliament approves next week UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s amended Brexit deal with the Union, or until April 12, if the legislature in London fails to do so.
Earlier on Friday, an official in Macron’s office said there would be no further extensions, not even to implement Brexit.
“No, April 12 is the leave date,” the official is quoted as saying, referring to what uropean Commission officials have described as “the new March 29th” – the previous Brexit date.
In his remarks on Friday, Macron stated the EU had had a wake-up call on China, and made clear his support behind the European Commission’s 2016 procurement directive.
“China plays our divisions. The period of European naiveté is over,” he added, declaring his his support behind the Commission’s 2016 procurement directive.
Other EU states, however, might be seeing the no-deal Brexit deadline of April 12 as more flexible, arguing that the conclusions of the European Council Summit were not so clear-cut.
“If there is no indication that they are going to run European elections … there is no ability to extend further,” Irish European Affairs Minister Helen McEntee said.
“But at the same time, it doesn’t mean that on April 12 that is the end date. It means that they have to give a timeline for what it is that they are doing or set out exactly what it is that they have planned. It takes away the possibility of a cliff-edge in 24 hours,” she elaborated.
An unnamed senior EU diplomat has also shared the view that there could be wriggle room or further delays of Brexit.
“My reading is rather in the direction that April 12 is the new March 29l The door is left open for another extension,” diplomat is quoted as saying.
(Banner image: Emmanuel Macron on Twitter)