Four freedoms sacred: MEPs tell UK

Four freedoms sacred: MEPs tell UK

Guy Verhofstadt. Source: Wikimedia

European parliamentarians will not accept an agreement for Britain’s EU exit that would undermine freedom of movement for people, according to the European Parliament’s negotiator Guy Verhofstadt.

Verhofstadt on Tuesday met the UK’s minister responsible for leaving the EU, David Davis.

“It is impossible to find a solution that would destroy the so-called four freedoms,” Verhofstadt told the media. “These four freedoms are key, they are a basic element of the European Union: the freedom of movement of goods, services, capital and of people. We will certainly never accept whatever development where these four freedoms at put at risk,” Verhofstadt said.

He said he agreed with Davis that talks should conclude before the next European parliamentary elections in 2019, after Britain submitted a formal notice, Article 50, that it wanted to leave by the end of next March.

“I also underlined the fact that parliament needs to give its consent. That takes a few months so the window for negotiations in fact, if you look to it more in detail, is more or less 14-15 months, let’s be honest,” he added.

Davis said Britain would establish its position on migration, security and the single market before it submitted the formal exit notice was issued by late March but it needed more time until then to “get it right”.

“What we’re after is that which is in the interest of the union and in the interests of the United Kingdom: trading interests, business, manufacturing and services and the aim is to make it as open as possible … that’s the clear overarching aim,” Davis added.

The EU’s principal court could rule over the content of any Brexit deal, Europe’s most senior judge is warning.

Koen Lenaerts said the European Court of Justice, long despised by Eurosceptics, could preside over Britain’s deal. He told the Financial Times that the ECJ might be called to step into any dispute that arose from the negotiated exit from the EU.

Lenaerts said: “I can’t even start intellectually beginning, imagining how and where and from which angle it might come.”

The court could decide on whether Article 50, the formal process for triggering Britain’s exit, could be revoked during the course of the two-year talks or if the notification was irreversible.

Steve Peers, a professor of EU law at Essex University, was quoted saying by the Financial Times: “It’s probably only a matter of time before some aspect of the Brexit issue gets decided by the EU courts and there’s no small irony in that prospect.”

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