Saturday

16th Dec 2017

Tusk warns UK on harsh realities of Brexit

EU Council president Donald Tusk says the only alternative to a "hard Brexit", a clean and damaging break from the European Union, is to remain a member of the bloc.

Speaking at the European Policy Centre, a think tank in Brussels, on Thursday (13 October)., Tusk warned that with Brexit, everybody loses, and Britain would find the separation the most uncomfortable.

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.

"The brutal truth is that Brexit will be a loss for all of us," he said, adding: "This scenario will in the first instance be painful for Britons."

Mocking a lead Brexit campaigner, foreign secretary Boris Johnson, who previously suggested Britons "could have their cake and eat it" - implying Britain could stay part of the EU's single market, while also restricting free movement of EU citizens - Tusk said: "To all who believe in it, I propose a simple experiment. Buy a cake, eat it, and see if it is still there on the plate."

He said: "The brutal truth is that Brexit will be a loss for all of us. There will be no cakes on the table. For anyone. There will be only salt and vinegar."

Tusk warned London not to expect much wiggle room on the four freedoms of the EU, and that it should not count on untangling the principle of free movement from access to the single market.

"There will be no compromises in this regard," Tusk said.

He said the EU 27 will negotiate in good faith, but they have to protect their interests.

He also offered an olive branch, saying London could still backtrack.

"In my opinion, the only real alternative to a 'hard Brexit' is 'no Brexit'. Even if today hardly anyone believes in such a possibility," he said.

Last week UK prime minister Theresa May said London would opt for a clean break from the EU, valuing control over immigration over and above access to the single market.

Her comments saw the pound fall further on the markets, but she has committed to launching the Article 50 exit procedures before the end of next March.

No fatalism

Tusk in his speech also called on EU leaders to resist fatalism or giving into populist forces.

"The most serious crisis of modern times is the weakening, if not the breakdown, of faith in the durability and purpose of traditional values, which are a foundation of the European Union and, more broadly, of the whole political community of the West," Tusk said.

"We must prove, however, every single day, that liberal democracy doesn't have to be a synonym of weakness," he said.

He pointed to the values which bind Europe together: human rights, civil liberties, freedom of speech and religion, free market and a competitive economy based on private property, reasonable and fair redistribution of goods, restrictions on power, tolerance and political pluralism.

"My generation knows this catalogue by heart," the former Polish prime minister said.

Recalling the Second World War, Tusk said the source of it "was the questioning of those values and treating national egoisms, the use of violence and the unlimited right of the stronger to dictate conditions for the weaker as the norm."

He said the threat today is the disintegration of Europe.

"It is no coincidence that very often those who question liberal democracy are the same ones who call for the break-up of the European Union," he warned.

May: Brexit is 'quiet revolution'

The British prime minister concluded the Tory party conference in the UK by pledging to regain control of immigration and by taking a swipe at pro-EU elites.

UK releases legal arguments on Article 50

In its recently released legal defence the UK government argues that neither the Westminster parliament, nor Scotland, Northern Ireland or Wales has a say in when Britian will trigger the Brexit process.

Tusk: Brexit talks could take seven years

Council chief warned UK could face long divorce from EU, as it could take up to seven years before the new relationship with Britain would be approved by other member states.

Column / Brexit Briefing

Sterling crisis reflects May’s dilemma

Continued uncertainty and confusion over what Brexit might mean sees the pound fall to its lowest levels in 30 years, leaving winter-escaping holidays increasingly out of reach of many Britons.

Brexit: EU trade talks to start in April

Talks on future trade relations to start mid-April, as Brussels waits for London to say what sort of relationship it wants, but last week's deal now 'Davis-proofed'.

News in Brief

  1. EU adopts 'track-and-trace' tobacco system
  2. Luxembourg appeals Amazon tax decision
  3. EU leaders agree to open phase 2 of Brexit talks
  4. Juncker: May made 'big efforts' on Brexit
  5. Merkel took 'tough' line on Russia at EU summit
  6. EU leaders added line supporting 'two-state' solution
  7. EU leaders agree to 20 European Universities by 2024
  8. Belgian courts end legal proceedings against Puigdemont

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Dialogue PlatformThe Gülen Community: Who to Believe - Politicians or Actions?" by Thomas Michel
  2. Plastics Recyclers Europe65% plastics recycling rate attainable by 2025 new study shows
  3. European Heart NetworkCommissioner Andriukaitis' Address to EHN on the Occasion of Its 25th Anniversary
  4. ACCACFOs Risk Losing Relevance If They Do Not Embrace Technology
  5. UNICEFMake the Digital World Safer for Children & Increase Access for the Most Disadvantaged
  6. European Jewish CongressWelcomes Recognition of Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel and Calls on EU States to Follow Suit
  7. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Boost Innovation Cooperation Under Horizon 2020
  8. European Gaming & Betting AssociationJuncker’s "Political" Commission Leaves Gambling Reforms to the Court
  9. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Applauds U.S. Recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital City
  10. EU2017EEEU Telecom Ministers Reached an Agreement on the 5G Roadmap
  11. European Friends of ArmeniaEU-Armenia Relations in the CEPA Era: What's Next?
  12. Mission of China to the EU16+1 Cooperation Injects New Vigour Into China-EU Ties

Latest News

  1. Catalonia, Brexit, and Uber on EU agenda This WEEK
  2. Macron and Merkel take tough line on Poland
  3. Eurozone future needs structural reforms, EU leaders told
  4. Showdown EU vote on asylum looking likely for next June
  5. EU stresses unity as it launches next phase of Brexit talks
  6. Polish PM ready for EU sanctions scrap
  7. Dutchman to lead powerful euro working group
  8. EU mulls post-Brexit balance of euro and non-eurozone states