Pragmatic Brexit needed for best possible deal for EU27

First Vice-President of the European Commission stresses importance of restoration of trust in the European project and says that Europe will seek solution that does “the least harm” to both sides

Pragmatic Brexit needed for best possible deal for EU27
Pragmatic Brexit needed for best possible deal for EU27
Louis Grech (left) with Frans Timmermans. Photo by James Bianchi/MediaToday
Louis Grech (left) with Frans Timmermans. Photo by James Bianchi/MediaToday

Europe will be adopting a pragmatic approach to Brexit, rather than a hard approach, according to deputy Prime Minister Louis Grech.

Asked whether a hard approach to Brexit would push the UK further towards becoming a tax haven, in the absence of access to the European single market, Grech said that the Commission will be looking to take a fair approach, the issue must be “addressed within the present remit of the European Union.”

This was echoed by the Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans who said that the European Union will strive to “get the best possible deal for the remaining 27 member states,” while “trying to do as little harm as possible to both parties.”   

“It’s not the European Union that has asked the UK to leave, it’s the United Kingdom that has decided, through a referendum, to leave the European Union. I’m saddened by that but it’s a sovereign decision by the UK,” said Timmermans, adding that the terms upon which the UK is to leave the union must ultimately be stipulated by the country itself on the basis of Article 50.

The two were addressing a press briefing following this morning’s informal meeting of ministers and secretaries of state for EU affairs where it was emphasised that the Maltese presidency will be giving significant importance to its priority of social inclusion across Europe.

The meeting was divided into two sessions, said the deputy Prime Minister, with the first session focusing on security, migration and neighbourhood policy as well as maritime affairs and social inclusion. In the second session, the future of Europe was discussed, specifically “the sustainability of Europe and the restoration of trust in the European project.”

Grech said that with that Europe is passing through challenging times, it would be a “mistake not to galvanise all efforts towards reunion,” and to “add value to citizens’ lives” through the European project.

On his part, Frans Timmermans, the First Vice-President of the Commission said that all member states were in agreement with, and strongly support the priorities set out by the presidency.

He too emphasised that “there is a sense of urgency, to give focus and direction to the EU and to solve some of the most thorny issues,” adding that today’s meeting was cause for optimism. “This gives Malta an excellent opportunity to steer Europe in the right direction and to show the leadership that Europe craves.”

Questioned about the EU’s plan for dealing with migration in from Libya, especially given the current situation in the country, Timmermans said that it is true that the situation in Libya is a complex one, but added that the EU has very capable people that are able to deal with complicated situations. “The European Commission is at the disposal of the member states to try and find a solution to this,” adding that while the problem will probably not be solved in overnight, progress will surely be made in the coming months. 

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