Saturday

21st Oct 2017

Interview

UK leaders will have to 'tell the truth' on Brexit

  • Daul: Britons "are not aware" of the price of Brexit, "or they don't want to know" (Photo: EPP/Flickr)

The British government and Brexiters will have to "tell the truth" about the price of leaving the EU, the president of the European People's Party (EPP) told EUobserver.

"I think Britons don't know yet how the negotiation will go," Joseph Daul said in an interview on the margins of the EPP congress in Malta, a day after British prime minister Theresa May sent the notification of her country's exit to the EU.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • Le Pen wants a referendum on French EU membership (Photo: European Parliament)

Daul said that the British government would "get it all wrong" if it thought that it could "negotiate country by country, sector by sector. On agriculture with one country, on fisheries with another".

He said the EU would "follow the plan established by the European institutions and Michel Barnier", the EU chief negotiator.

Daul's center-right EPP is the party of the three top EU institution's heads - the European Commission's Jean-Claude Juncker, the EU Council's Donald Tusk and the European Parliament's Antonio Tajani - as well as of Barnier.

The EPP, like the EU as a whole, said at its congress that the three top priorities in the upcoming negotiations would be the rights of EU citizens living in the UK, the UK's financial commitments towards the EU, and the status of the border between the Republic of Ireland and the UK's Northern Ireland.

"I think that we will be very united on that," Daul said, referring to the EU position that the UK's only negotiating partner is Barnier, with the support of the European Council, where EU leaders meet.

"Do you think there will be division on the question of the right of European citizens? Do you think there will be division on the question on funding?" he said.

"That is why we need to start with the main problems first. Then we'll negotiate how we'll work with the UK."

If there is no deal on citizens's rights, Daul said, "it will be a hard, hard Brexit".

He said that the UK would "not leave the table without paying the bill", which he said would be "over" the €60 billion that has been unofficially mentioned so far.

"They don't want to talk about it, but the bill must be entirely paid by the UK," he said. "They are not aware of that or they don't want to know."

He said that May was probably "aware of what is going to happen" but that she, and the British politicians who supported Brexit, "will have to tell people the truth".

Daul admitted that Brexit would hurt Europe, but insisted that the UK had more to lose.

"I met recently a Chinese official who told me that for them, England is like a big Chinese city," he said. "He told me: 'If we have to choose between a big Chinese city and the EU, we'll chose the EU'."

"We also have to see the opportunities that Brexit offers [for the EU]," he said, adding that, for exemple, "we'll progress faster on security and defence [because] the Brits always blocked everything".

Le Pen

Asked about the French presidential election next month, the EPP chief, a Frenchman, said that a victory for far-right leader Marine Le Pen was "unthinkable" for him.

If she was elected "it would be bad for Europe and the euro, but it would be catastrophic for France," he said.

Le Pen has promised to organise a referendum on France's EU membership and wants to re-introduce a national currency to replace the euro in France.

Daul admitted Le Pen would pose "more problems than Brexit", but that "there are plans" afoot on how to cope even with her.

He told EUobserver that "committes, at the highest level, are working on the hypothesis that France leaves the euro and the EU".

He declined to specify whether these working groups were in EU capitals or in the EU institutions.

"If Le Pen is elected and wants to leave the euro and the EU, Europe would not stop," he said. "Germany and other countries would still have their currency."

"I hope that Europe would resist, not only Germany," he added.

Poland

Mentioning Poland, a country under EU monitoring over concerns about respect of the rule of law, Daul said he was "not worried as long as we are in a democracy and we vote every four or five years".

"I will be worried when one wil start putting democracy into question, changing the rules so democracy cannot work anymore," he said.

For that reason, the head of the EPP said, "it is too early" to trigger Article 7 of the EU treaty, which can lead to sanctions, against Poland.

Brexit as well as the rise of anti-EU parties like Le Pen's National Front are considered by some as the consequence of the EU's failure to address Europeans' concerns.

On 25 March, in Rome, EU leaders pledged to make the EU closer to citizens and more efficient.

"We have to address the fears of our European fellow citizens, which are exploited by populist parties," Daul said, admitting that Europeans "have not understood" what the EU has been doing.

"We have seen that with the migration, the question of the control of borders … We wanted to prepare the future, and we didn't explain enough what we were doing," he said.

Multi-speed EU

In the Rome declaration, EU leaders did not endorse the idea, supported by the EPP, of a multi-speed EU, but they said that some of them could push forward on certain issues

Daul said that a multi-speed Europe meant both institutional engineering and concrete projects, like the monetary union or defence policy, "but also professional training for youth, or the digital single market".

"Those who want to go faster and farther on some issues, let's let them do it, and let's not block them by saying that they have to wait for the ones at the back to go forward," he said.

Be fair in Brexit talks, EU tells UK

European Council chief Tusk sent draft guidelines to member states. He said the EU wants "fairness" and then warned against using security cooperation as bargaining chip.

EU guidelines set out two-phase Brexit talks

According to the draft negotiating guidelines, the EU-27 would open negotiations on future EU-UK relations when "sufficient progress" has been made on citizens' rights, the British financial bill and the status of the border in Ireland.

European right divided on EU values after Brexit

A day after the UK notified its exit from the EU, leaders of the European People's Party expressed a different vision of Europe's identity, with Hungary's Orban calling for a stop to the Muslim "invasion".

EU rounds wagons in Gibraltar dispute

Spectacle of EU institutions and 27 remaining member states taking a common line against an outgoing member is a first in EU history.

Investigation

The mysterious German behind Orban's Russian deals

Klaus Mangold, a German businessman with good connections in Russia, and who provided a jet for Commission vice-president Guenther Oettinger, played a crucial role in Hungary's controversial Paks nuclear deal with Russia, Direkt36's investigation has found.

Focus

Health MEPs want to phase out glyphosate by 2020

A committee resolution said the proposal to renew the glyphosate permit for a decade "fails to ensure a high level of protection of both human and animal health and the environment".

News in Brief

  1. Rajoy to trigger Article 155 on Saturday in Catalan crisis
  2. EU conducts unannounced inspection of German car firm
  3. Lithuania calls for new EU energy laws
  4. EU leaders aim for December for defence cooperation
  5. Juncker says hands tied on Russia pipeline
  6. Czechs set to elect billionaire Andrej Babis
  7. Italian regions hold referendums on more autonomy
  8. EU leaders refuse to mediate Catalonia conflict

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Friends of ArmeniaEU Engagement Could Contribute to Lasting Peace in Nagorno-Karabakh
  2. UNICEFViolence in Myanmar Driving up to 12,000 Rohingya Refugee Children Into Bangladesh Every Week
  3. European Jewish CongressEJC Applauds the Bulgarian Government for Adopting the Working Definition of Antisemitism
  4. EU2017EENorth Korea Leaves Europe No Choice, Says Estonian Foreign Minister Sven Mikser
  5. Mission of China to the EUZhang Ming Appointed New Ambassador of the Mission of China to the EU
  6. International Partnership for Human RightsEU Should Seek Concrete Commitments From Azerbaijan at Human Rights Dialogue
  7. European Jewish CongressEJC Calls for New Austrian Government to Exclude Extremist Freedom Party
  8. CES - Silicones EuropeIn Healthcare, Silicones Are the Frontrunner. And That's a Good Thing!
  9. EU2017EEEuropean Space Week 2017 in Tallinn from November 3-9. Register Now!
  10. European Entrepreneurs CEA-PMEMobiliseSME Exchange Programme Open Doors for 400 Companies Across Europe
  11. CECEE-Privacy Regulation – Hands off M2M Communication!
  12. ILGA-EuropeHealth4LGBTI: Reducing Health Inequalities Experienced by LGBTI People

Latest News

  1. The mysterious German behind Orban's Russian deals
  2. Mogherini urged to do more on Russian propaganda
  3. Turkey funding cuts signal EU mood shift
  4. Posted workers top EU agenda This Week
  5. Leaders lobby to host EU agencies at summit's margins
  6. Legal tweak could extend EU control on Russia pipeline
  7. Ukraine language law does not harm minorities
  8. EU begins preparations for Brexit trade talks

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EU2017EEEHealth: A Tool for More Equal Health
  2. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Tourism a Key Driver for Job Creation and Enhanced Competitiveness
  3. CECENon-Harmonised Homologation of Mobile Machinery Costs € 90 Million per Year
  4. ILGA-EuropeMass Detention of Azeri LGBTI People - the LGBTI Community Urgently Needs Your Support
  5. European Free AllianceCatalans Have Won the Right to Have an Independent State
  6. ECR GroupBrexit: Delaying the Start of Negotiations Is Not a Solution
  7. EU2017EEPM Ratas in Poland: "We Enjoy the Fruits of European Cooperation Thanks to Solidarity"
  8. Mission of China to the EUChina and UK Discuss Deepening of Global Comprehensive Strategic Partnership
  9. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceEHLA Joins Commissioners Navracsics, Andriukaitis and Hogan at EU Week of Sport
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council Representative Office Opens in Brussels to Foster Better Cooperation
  11. UNICEFSocial Protection in the Contexts of Fragility & Forced Displacement
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Innovation House Opens in New York to Support Start-Ups