“Build up obstacles instead of clearing them away” «kleinezeitung.at

The work is not over yet, says EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier about Brexit. The task force on the EU side is still in lively exchange with the Council, the Commission and, above all, the EU Parliament: the committees are currently meeting there to prepare the vote on the Brexit agreement.

Of Andreas Lieb | 05.30, 14 January 2021

EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier: No more new negotiations © AP

The whole process, which only began in February last year, can only be completed if the EU Parliament has also given its approval, said Michel Barnier in Brussels during a conversation with journalists in which the Kleine Zeitung also took part. After the “Christmas deal”, Brexit is actually completed at the turn of the year, but again the contracting parties are in a transition period – the deal was approved in no time in London, the EU Parliament, whose approval is also required, wants the agreement with it Take a closer look at the 1246 pages of the basic text and need more time. This final step should also be completed by the end of February.

Barnier said that he always thought Brexit was a divorce that could only be regretted: “It’s a lose-lose situation, there are only losers.” But: he conducted the negotiations in a respectful manner, it was never about revenge or punishment. In the last four and a half years it was not just about economy and trade: “It was about the people and about peace, especially in Ireland.”

During all the negotiations, the single market was the trump card, according to Barnier, which also made the EU globally competitive. Brexit could never mean that the European “ecosystem”, which consists of equal rights, norms, social standards and much more, could be unbalanced. On the British side, this has been taken into account, Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage himself once told him that European destabilization was expected.

The problem: New obstacles instead of relief

Barnier explains why the negotiations were so tough by saying that for the first time the aim was to build up obstacles instead of removing them – a negotiation goal that the teams first had to come to terms with. The withdrawal of the British had meant that barriers had to be built into economic relations that did not exist before.

And now there are the problems that were to be expected: “I have always said that there will be significant consequences.” This reality now has to be faced: “We have laid the basis for cooperation, in a sustainable way. This agreement will no longer be renegotiated. ”However, additional agreements could still be made, for example for external defense or for Europe’s engagement in Africa.

You can read the detailed interview with Michel Barnier, in which he talks about the drama of the negotiations and gives an insight into his plans for the future, in the Friday edition (print and online).

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