London and the European Union will have only “14-15 months” to negotiate their divorce after initiation of the Brexit procedure, warned Tuesday MEP Guy Verhofstadt, to negotiate the Brexit on behalf of the European Parliament.
“We agreed on the need to start the process (of separation) as soon as possible and finish before the next European elections”, scheduled for May or June 2019, said Verhofstadt, who had his “first formal contact” with David Davis, British Secretary of Brexit on Tuesday at the European Parliament in Strasbourg.
“The negotiation window is roughly 14-15 months”, calculated the former Belgian prime minister. “It will be a very intense period”, predicted the Liberal MEP.
If, as promised by the British Prime Minister Theresa May, London shall notify its decision to leave the EU by the end of March 2017, the real negotiations will not begin until May.
After breaking agreement negotiated with London, the European Parliament must also give its approval, a process that could take several months from the end of 2018. This leaves de facto a relatively short period of 15 months of actual negotiations, as the European negotiator.
Chairman of the Alde group (liberals) and champion of European federalism Guy Verhofstadt also recalled that it was “impossible to find solutions that will destroy the four freedoms” of movement of people, goods, capital and services. They are considered intangible principles of the Union, while the British government wants to restrict the number of European migrants while wishing to remain in the single market.
— Guy Verhofstadt (@GuyVerhofstadt) November 22, 2016
The Europeans are waiting for the British Government initiative, which should invoke the clause of voluntary and unilateral withdrawal from the EU Lisbon Treaty (Article 50), which has never been used.
Some do not hide their frustration and impatience.
“Unfortunately, I have not heard back from David Davis today (Tuesday). For us it is clear: the four basic freedoms (of the EU) are not negotiable “, stressed the head of the EPP conservative group in Parliament, the German Manfred Weber.
“We do not know what Brexit means, so we will have to reduce our relationship, it is not at all to choose what you prefer” , ruled Weber.
Monday, Mr. Davis had met for the first time in Brussels on Brexit the chief negotiator for the European Commission, Michel Barnier.
These visits, the first of Davis from the vote in favor of leaving the EU, “are not used to open negotiations which will only begin after the activation of Article 50, but to clear the ground in for a constructive dialogue and a peaceful and orderly exit for the benefit of all “, according to London.
Seeking to reassure the worried British entrepreneurs on Brexit Theresa May said Monday that “the right approach is not to rush us before starting the hard work, take the time to clarify our position before we launch” .
However, divorce proceedings could be further delayed by the recent decision of the High Court in London that British MPs should vote on the EU’s output process.
The British government, which does not consider it a useful vote, immediately announced an appeal to the Supreme Court, which is expected to rule early December.