Published On: Fri, Sep 6th, 2019

EU on alert: Tusk successor fears ‘serious impact’ as Brexit Britain goes global | UK | News


The Belgian, who is set to replace Donald Tusk as the next European Council president, believes Brexit is having a “serious impact on the welfare of this and future generations”. He insisted that the UK and EU will “alway be neighbours”, even if Boris Johnson pushes for a closer relationship with Washington. Mr Michel fears were sparked by the Prime Minister’s instance that the UK should be seeking a looser security and trade relationship with Brussels than negotiated by his predecessor, Theresa May.

The outgoing Belgian prime minister, who will be chairing future meetings of EU leaders, warned that Brexit is “the most challenging issue we face right now”.

He added: “Brexit is having a serious impact on the welfare of this and future generations.”

Mr Michel has been an intense critic of Britain’s EU divorce during high-level talks between the bloc’s leaders.

He has often formed mini-alliances with France’s Emmanuel Macron, who is said to be the EU’s leader most hostile to Brexit.

“The UK is now looking more and more towards the United States,” Mr Michel told a group of EU diplomats.

“But the proximity and ties between the EU and UK will not disappear.”

Since winning the keys to Downing Street, Mr Johnson has been in constant contact with his US counterpart.

Mr Trump’s security adviser, John Bolton, has said Washington will focus on a sector-by-sector trade deal with the UK to speed up post-Brexit talks.

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Another branded the move as a “bargaining chip versus the East”, and warned it only acts as another hurdle in trying to strike a Brexit deal.

“None of this is geared towards working to close on a deal, we’re drifting further away,” the source added.

Mr Johnson’s plans to diverge from EU rules has sparked warnings that the bloc will be less willing to strike a trade deal with the UK after Brexit.

The Prime Minister’s team of officials has been told that attempts to loosen ties between the UK and EU will see member state parliaments reject any future trade agreement.

According to EU sources, Belgium and the Netherlands will be the first countries to veto any future relationships if there are no so-called “level playing field provisions”.

Guy Verhofstadt, the European Parliament’s Brexit co-ordinator, said: “Asking for a basic trade deal with the Union while refusing regulatory alignment and tearing up their level playing field commitments means the UK will find it very difficult to achieve an ambitious trade agreement with the EU.

“In this scenario, ratification would be further jeopardised.”

Many in Brussels believe that Mr Johnson favours a “TTIP-lite”, referring to the failed EU-US trade deal that was crashed by member states in 2017.

An EU diplomat told Express.co.uk: “For us to reengage with the UK, I fear the Commission will be saddled with all kind of impossible demands from national parliaments.

“And don’t expect national parliaments to want to help the UK become Singapore on Thames.”



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