viernes, 1 de julio de 2016

Slovakian foreign minister: I will support any measure to stop Brexit

Slovakian foreign minister Miroslav Lajčák

Miroslav Lajčák, whose country will hold EU presidency, hopes UK can remain – after John Kerry made similar comments

The new Slovakian EU presidency has held out a slim hope of overcoming last week’s Brexit vote, with the country’s foreign minister saying he respected the result but would support any measure that helped reverse it.

Speaking a day after the US secretary of state, John Kerry, suggested that the Brexit result could be “walked back”, Slovakia’s foreign minister, Miroslav Lajčák, appeared to nudge the door open further.At a press conference in Bratislava, he said: “I would support any measure that will help reverse the position of the British people, which we have to respect but also regret. I deeply regret it – an EU with a UK is a better EU – but it’s in the hands of the British people and politicians.”
Slovakia will take up the rotating EU presidency, which gives it responsibility for the legislature’s functioning for six months, on 1 July. After that it will pass on to Malta.
Poland’s foreign minister, Witold Waszczykowski, has also expressed hopes of a way being found to keep Britain within the EU, but the prospect appears remote in the face of political developments in the UK and collective statements from EU leaders.
Nicolas Sarkozy, now the frontrunner in the polls to be the candidate of the French right in next year’s presidential elections, has said he wants to hold Britain’s hand tighter because he believes in its presence in Europe. He said he would propose a Europe-wide referendum in 2017, including on new measures and border controls.
Sarkozy wants a Schengen 2 in which freedom of movement is restricted to an inner group of countries capable of securing their borders. Such a recalibration of free movement would be unpopular elsewhere in Europe but might mesh with reforms sought by a future British government.
Germany’s former chancellor Helmut Kohl has also urged the EU not to apply too much pressure on the UK and to give the country time to think through its next move. The man who was one of the driving forces behind European integration in the 1990s said slamming the door on Britain would be an “enormous mistake”.

Kohl, who oversaw the reunification of Germany and the introduction of the euro, is calling for Europe to “take a breather” and take “one step back before taking two steps forward” at a pace that is manageable for all member states, according to an interview in Bild.

The newspaper said that instead of taking steps towards further centralisation and “mistaking a unified Europe with a standardised Europe”, Kohl wanted European leaders to pay more respect to national and regional differences.

Britain’s special status in the EU had always been difficult and challenging but should be understood as being rooted in the country’s history, Kohl was quoted as saying, adding: “It is also part of Europe’s variety.”

But the chances of a UK reversal look slim after the frontrunner for the Tory leadership, Theresa May, said “Brexit means Brexit”, even though she had given lukewarm support for remain in the referendum campaign.

May, a familiar face in Brussels, insisted there would be no backdoor move to evade the referendum result and no general election until 2020. She will have angered the European commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker, by saying she would reject his call to invoke article 50 as soon as a new prime minister is in place if she wins the Tory leadership contest. She said she would not do so until the end of the year.

But she also intrigued EU diplomats by saying it would take several years to reach “an initial deal”, a possible reference to forging an interim EU relationship similar to Norway, under which the UK would have access to the EU single market but some form of free movement. EU diplomats were interested in her commitment “not to keep free movement as it has worked hitherto”.

She also stressed that in the negotiations “it must be a priority to allow British companies to trade with the single market in goods and services”. Some EU officials saw this as a sign that she would put preservation of access to the free market above other considerations.

Slovakia also stressed that it would try to ensure that the negotiations were not dominated by an inner group of France, Germany and Italy. It said it would host the next informal summit in Bratislava in September, away from the dominance of the commission in Brussels.

The EU produced a draft €157bn (£130bn) budget for next year on Thursday, which includes continued contributions by the UK.

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