As May readies commerce speech, Tusk sees difficulties

LONDON/BRUSSELS (Reuters) – “Real political difficulties” lie forward for Brexit, EU summit chair Donald Tusk mentioned after Prime Minister Theresa May gave him a preview of the imaginative and prescient of future commerce ties she is going to unveil on Friday.

Over lunch at her Downing Street workplace, aides mentioned, May instructed him a draft Brexit treaty revealed by the European Union on Wednesday was “unacceptable” in its proposal of protecting Northern Ireland successfully in an EU customs union, doubtlessly isolating the province economically from the British mainland.

Tusk provided a sturdy defence of the draft, which the EU says is a “backstop” for avoiding a “hard border” which may disrupt peace in Ireland. Before their assembly, he mentioned he could be asking May if she had a greater thought to attain that.

No particulars emerged of precisely what May will suggest in a speech on Friday for an “ambitious economic partnership” after Brexit. Some ministers have instructed that it might probably obtain “frictionless trade” between the entire United Kingdom and the EU and keep away from the necessity for a particular deal in Ireland.

May’s spokesman mentioned her ministers had agreed along with her that her speech could be “a real step forward in the negotiations”.

However, Tusk has dismissed as “pure illusion” among the concepts that many anticipate to kind a part of her proposal to take care of shut regulatory alignment with the EU in some sectors.

On Thursday he bluntly dismissed the concept May may keep away from hampering commerce whereas pursuing her plan to take Britain out of each the EU customs union and the only market.

“Friction is an inevitable side effect of Brexit. By nature,” he instructed a business conference in Brussels. Over lunch in London, an EU official mentioned, Tusk centered on plans for future ties, talks on which ought to lastly get below method subsequent month after an interim deal on divorce points was struck in December.


British Brexit supporters accuse the EU of being rigid and looking for to punish Britain for leaving, whereas EU leaders say Britain is making an attempt to cherry-pick entry to their markets whereas absenting itself from following guidelines it doesn’t like.

European Council President Donald Tusk delivers a media assertion on the Chancellery in Vienna, Austria, February 13, 2018. REUTERS/Heinz-Peter Bader

Rhetoric on either side has turned sharper following the interim accord in December, with EU officers urging May to offer them a transparent thought of what her deeply divided government needs on commerce and for Northern Ireland with Brexit simply 13 months away.

The EU official known as Tusk’s lunch with May “an open and honest debate in a good atmosphere about the real political difficulties ahead of us”. After May’s speech, Tusk will current an EU negotiating place on post-Brexit relations subsequent week which EU leaders ought to endorse at a summit on March 22-23.

Also addressing the Business Europe discussion board in Brussels on Thursday, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier urged company bosses to arrange for Britain’s departure and issued a brand new warning status-quo, two-year transition interval was not but agreed and won’t be assured for one more yr.

The pound had softened on Barnier’s warnings the day past transition deal was not a given and the row over the EU’s draft on Ireland has additionally reminded traders that failure to strike a divorce deal may very well be disruptive.

The “only certainty”, Barnier mentioned, was that Britain could be out of the EU subsequent March, and so companies should put together: “Of course, the transition period currently under negotiation would give you more time to adapt,” he added.

“However, certainty about the transition will only come at the end of the process, with the ratification of the withdrawal agreement by both sides – probably early next year.”


Britons against leaving the EU are preventing a rearguard motion that seeks to make use of May’s weak spot in her personal Conservative social gathering and in parliament to disrupt it – although there’s little signal public opinion has shifted removed from the roughly 50-50 break up which delivered a slim vote for Brexit in a 2016 referendum.

Tony Blair, the previous Labour prime minister who is among the many extra distinguished campaigners making an attempt to halt Brexit, was in Brussels on Thursday, aiming to steer EU policymakers to be able to welcome Britain to stay if it modifications its thoughts – and be prepared to point out a will to reform, particularly to curb the simple migration throughout the EU that nervous many Britons.

Tusk and different EU leaders have repeatedly mentioned Britain could be welcome to remain, though some additionally clarify they don’t seem to be keen to undertake main reforms with a purpose to try this.

Frans Timmermans, deputy head of the EU government, instructed the European Parliament on Wednesday: “If they change their minds and want to come back to the European Union, I think we would all welcome them warmly back into the European Union family.”

Additional reporting by Samantha Koester and Jan Strupczewski in Brussels; Writing by Alastair Macdonald; Editing by Janet Lawrence

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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