Saturday

16th Feb 2019

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).

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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".

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