The Malta Independent 21 May 2019, Tuesday

EU/UK extended negotiations should not merely serve to postpone a no-deal Brexit - Sant

Friday, 15 March 2019, 08:45 Last update: about 3 months ago

Former Prime Minister and Maltese MEP Alfred Sant told the European Parliament that    EU/UK extended negotiations should not merely serve to postpone a no-deal Brexit. That would be disastrous.  The Maltese MEP made these remarks during the debate on the ‘Preparation of the European Council meeting of 21 and 22 March 2019 and UK’s withdrawal from the EU at the European Parliament, Strasbourg.

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Sant said it is likely that a request for extension of the Brexit negotiations will soon materialise. But to fulfil the objective of the extension and end this impasse, the UK Government has to bring to the EU Heads of State and Government a clear vision of the form of the future relationship that is sought. This is currently lacking.

The length of any extension should depend on this vision, and also on the extent to which the European block would want to negotiate. The European side still needs to make its position more transparent. For instance, regarding the backstop for Northern Ireland, is it true that an approach modelled on the situation between West and East Germany in the past has been ignored? If so, why?

However, if indeed, the withdrawal agreement is not negotiable, it would not make sense to allow the continuation of the negotiations for a much longer period, going say, beyond the EU election day. The ongoing controversies within the British political system, will not help. Using the possible extension to push for a second referendum could push the country towards more chaos. On the other hand it would be disastrous if the extension serves merely to postpone a no-deal Brexit.

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