Tuesday

23rd May 2017

EU 'too busy' to interfere in UK elections

  • The EU wants May to come back reinforced after the elections (Photo: Consilium)

The EU does not have time to interfere in the UK elections, said the European Commission after UK prime minister Theresa May accused EU officials of trying to "affect" the 8 June vote.

"We are not naive, we know that there is an election taking place in the UK, people get excited whenever we have elections," the European Commission's chief spokesperson, Margaritis Schinas, said on Thursday (4 May).

But he denied the claims of vote-meddling.

"We here in Brussels, we are rather busy with our policy work. We have a lot to do on our plate," he said.

"We will not 'Brexitise' our work," he added, referring to the problem of Brexit overtaking too many of the EU's daily tasks. He added that "the 30-minute slot that we are going to devote to Brexit a week is up."

May said on Wednesday the Commission’s negotiating stance had hardened and that threats against Britain had been issued by European politicians, claiming that the attacks were timed deliberately to affect the result of the general election.

European Council chief Donald Tusk also tried to cool tempers.

The former Polish prime minister said on Thursday that exchanging accusations before negotiations begin would make the Brexit talks “impossible”.

“These negotiations are difficult as they are. If we start arguing before they even begin, they will become impossible. The stakes are too high to let our emotions get out of hand,” Tusk said.

“We need today discretion, moderation, mutual respect and a maximum of good will,” he said, recalling that the interests of millions of citizens were at stake.

At a separate event, the president of the European Parliament echoed the general sentiment in Brussels that a strong and fresh mandate for the UK government would help to achieve a Brexit deal.

Antonio Tajani, the president of the EU parliament, said that calling the election was a good decision for the UK and the EU.

"There [would be] stability in the UK, and it is better to have an interlocutor, who is not constantly looking for votes because they [already] had the election, to work towards a good solution," he said on Thursday.

Two weeks ago, the president of the Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, was criticised for congratulating Emmanuel Macron on his victory in the first round of the French elections.

May’s accusation of political meddling was not the first one levelled at Brussels in recent days.

The move was seen as favouring one candidate over the other before the final vote takes place this Sunday, and Juncker was criticised for trying to influence the poll.

The EU commission then denied interfering in the French vote.

Schinas at the time said that France is "one of the countries which incarnates and symbolises those values on which European integration is based", and that Juncker praised Macron because "he is the candidate who represents those values".

Barnier unveils EU's Brexit goals

Barnier to set out EU negotiating positions on citizens' rights, divorce costs, and Ireland in Brexit talks, amid a prickly atmosphere between London and Brussels.

Column / Brexit Briefing

Beware the pen of an Osborne scorned

For George Osborne, a former finance minister turned newspaper editor, restoring Britain’s liberal internationalism from a flicker to a flame would be a legacy worth having.

EU gives mandate for Barnier to take on Brexit

In its final preparatory act before Brexit talks begin, the EU has officially given the negotiating mandate to Michel Barnier. The French politician said he would like to start negotiations on the week of 19 June.

May promises hard Brexit in Tory manifesto

In her party's platform ahead of the 8 June elections, the British prime minister has asked voters to let her negotiate Brexit without guaranteeing a final deal.

EU wants Brexit talks to start the day after UK vote

EU negotiator Michel Barnier urged negotiations to begin as soon as possible, while European Council chief Donald Tusk said the EU-27's red lines will be updated once talks can move on from the divorce to the future relationship.

Column / Brexit Briefing

Tories on manoeuvres, as Labour wakes from Brexit slumber

In Labour's programme for the June election, Jeremy Corbyn claims there will be no second EU referendum and promises a form of associate membership with the EU. For the moment, it’s as far as his party can go.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNICEFChild Alert on Myanmar: Fruits of Rapid Development yet to Reach Remote Regions
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersBecome an Explorer - 'Traces of Nordic' Seeking Storytellers Around the World
  3. Malta EU 2017Closer Cooperation and Reinforced Solidarity to Ensure Security of Gas Supply
  4. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceHigh-Intensity Interval Training Is Therapeutic Option for Type 2 Diabetes
  5. Dialogue Platform"The West Must Help Turkey Return to a Democratic Path" a Call by Fethullah Gulen
  6. ILGA-EuropeRainbow Europe 2017 Is Live - Which Countries Are Leading on LGBTI Equality?
  7. Centre Maurits CoppietersWhen You Invest in a Refugee Woman You Help the Whole Community
  8. Eurogroup for AnimalsECJ Ruling: Member States Given No Say on Wildlife Protection In Trade
  9. European Heart NetworkCall for Urgent Adoption of EU-Wide Nutrient Profiles for Nutrition & Health Claims
  10. Counter BalanceInvestment Plan for Europe More Climate Friendly but European Parliament Shows Little Ambition
  11. Mission of China to the EUPresident Xi: China's Belt and Road Initiative Benefits People Around the World
  12. Malta EU 2017EU Strengthens Control of the Acquisition and Possession of Firearms