British government unwilling to negotiate Brexit in good faith

London’s enduring lack of clarity on Ireland and citizens’ rights is an urgent crisis made worse by EU leaders, GUE/NGL President Gabi Zimmer said during a debate today on the upcoming Summit of EU leaders.

The next meeting of EU heads of state or government is set to focus on Brexit, migration and internal security. Zimmer (DIE LINKE, Germany) added that the EU must not pass blame if Brexit negotiations fail despite the inability of the British government: 

“We are reaching a deadlock in the Brexit negotiations and my impression is that the parties are trying to pass the blame away from them, this is particularly true of the British government. I was never one of those who wanted to use the negotiations to punish the British for their democratic decision or make an example of them. However, what we are seeing is a government shaken by internal power struggles of the Tory party, which is unable to present any clear proposals to solve the key problems we face. We are getting all sorts of unclear answers and even awkward statements from British ministers. This is an obvious attempt to position themselves in better light if Brexit negotiations fail, which is becoming more probable every day.”

“The UK government must be clear where they stand on the issue of Ireland, whether they are still committed to the Good Friday agreement and whether they will stick to its commitments on citizens´ rights made in the Joint Declaration last December. If not, they should just say it.”

The German MEP warned the EU not to sell-out social and democratic rights in a future trade deal:

“On the issue of trade, the EU must not do anything at this point that can prejudice future social policies or the possibility for a more democratic decision-making in the UK and the EU. We need a trade agreement that is mindful of social commitments and regulatory standards, or else the EU will lose the support of our group. We stand for a fair solution.”

On the Austrian presidency of the Council, Zimmer asserted that they have been a disappointment and doing too much to appease the far right:

“The Austrian Presidency has so far underperformed. One year since the Gothenburg social summit, the Austrian presidency cancelled the council meeting with social affairs ministers and has not been able to develop any social policies or to make any overtures towards a more social EU.”

“Who did seriously expect that the Austrian presidency would make any progress with the urgently needed reform of the Dublin regulation? A country whose far right interior minister orchestrates with Italy´s Salvini plans for asylum decisions to be made at sea.” 

“In September, every fifth person fleeing Libya ended up dead or missing. Does the Austrian presidency even know what is happening there? It has a responsibility to find a solution that is humane, that brings us further as a Union and strengthens our joint responsibility. Unfortunately, the Austrian presidency seems to be fulfilling all the negative expectations people had of it. When we talk about Hungary and Poland, I ask the presidency to also look into Italy, in particular their recent decree to stop migration and the reversal of burden of proof for migrants and asylum seekers,” Zimmer concluded.