Brussels is annoyed. The British Prime Minister wants to renegotiate the withdrawal agreement with a new mandate from the lower house. The EU does not want to give in yet. From Brussels Bernd Riegert.

In Brussels, the day after the vote in the British Parliament, a certain amount of frustration is spreading. The renewed attempt by British Prime Minister Theresa May with the new backing of the House of Commons to reopen the final exit agreement, is clearly rejected by the EU Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier. “The EU position is very clear,” Barnier said after a meeting of the Brexit committee in the European Parliament. “I just want to confirm that the European institutions are united and stand by the agreement we have negotiated with Britain.”

Trip-trap “backstop”

There can be no change in the ‘backstop’, an assurance that there will be no hard line between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. This was also repeated by the President of the European Council and the French President shortly after the vote in the British Parliament. Northern Ireland belongs to the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland remains an EU member. This would create an external border of the EU in the middle of the Irish island. But they want to avoid both sides in order to prevent a resurgence of the civil war between Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland. However, Prime Minister May also refuses to move this border into the straits between the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland because it would jeopardize the Union in the United Kingdom.

Ireland, Newry: Protesters strike a symbolic wall (picture-alliance / AP / P. Morrison)

Key question Northern Ireland: Citizens break a symbolic wall in protest against possible border controls after a hard Brexit

“The British are on the train”

How Theresa May wants to find a solution to this tricky problem in just 14 days is a mystery to almost everyone in Brussels. Even British Brexit minister Steve Barclay admitted in an interview with the BBC this morning that his prime minister did not have a ready-made alternative proposal in her pocket that she could present in Brussels.

Responding accordingly the German MEP Markus Ferber reacted in Brussels. “We’ve been negotiating with the British government for two years now, and Prime Minister May has rejected all offers from the European Union, she has always defined red lines, which she does not want, she never said what she wants, and even the vote yesterday Unterhaus says only what the lower house does not want, but not what it wants, which of course makes it difficult for us, “said the conservative member of the Deutschlandfunk. 

Great Britain go a wrong way, criticized the member of parliament Roderich Kiesewetter (CDU) opposite the DW. “Ms May is under pressure so I can understand that she wants to negotiate as long as possible, but we only have eight weeks left and we should avoid a hard Brexit by focusing only once on a kind of customs union Later one sees further, “recommends the conservative Kiesewetter, who is a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee in Berlin.

Guy Verhofstadt, Brexit negotiator for the European Parliament, which would also have to ratify a Brexit treaty, criticizes the bargaining tactics of the British. The chaotic votes in the lower house with numerous applications and counter-proposals without clear bipartisan majorities are not suitable as a basis for negotiation, he told reporters in Brussels. “We will not break our internal market, it is far too important for our companies and we will not leave our Irish friends alone.” One could talk about everything, said Liberal MEP Verhofstadt, but the British now have to come up with proposals.

EU Summit on Brexit Juncker and May (picture-alliance / AP Photo / A. Grant)

European Commission chief Juncker (left) and Prime Minister May are to work on the squaring of the district

“Preserve the internal market”

Angered by Theresa May’s announcement that she wants to put an end to the withdrawal agreement, the Green Party leader in the European Parliament, Philippe Lamberts, is also reacting. “We will not give up the ‘backstop’, then we would accept that we have no controls at the border, although in the future Great Britain could deviate significantly from our food standards, environmental regulations, etc. Then we should set a 500 kilometer limit as a door to the internal market open? ” Philippe Lamberts sees the concerns of the Brexit supporters in the British House of Commons rather than unreasonable. “That would be just as if the Brexiteers were relinquishing controls on immigration, people, would they do that, of course not!”

Now is poker

EU diplomats with whom DW spoke in Brussels, but who are not to be named, point out that Britain will eventually postpone the Brexit date set for 29 March. This would be achieved by extending the negotiation deadline, new elections or a second referendum. Others, however, reckon that, in the end, the Republic of Ireland, and then the other EU members, will soften the ‘backstop’ set up for an eternity shortly before the end of the deadline, for example by limiting or terminating it. Whether this is sufficient then, in the British lower house to secure a majority for a Brexit contract, nobody knows. “Mikado is played now, who moves first, has lost,” said an experienced MEP in the background discussion.


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