BRUSSELS – Germany has been exhausted by Brexit negotiations and has urged the United Kingdom to clarify whether it wanted to delay its departure from the European Union, Germany’s minister for Europe told reporters ahead of a meeting on Tuesday.
Michael Roth addressed members of the press prior to a European Council meeting where participants gathered with the aim of adopting a series of acts that were designed to mitigate the negative effects of a possible no-deal Brexit.
“Dear friends in London, please deliver,” Roth told reporters before joining the crunch meeting. “The clock is ticking,” the minister added.
He added that the EU expected clear and precise reasons for an extension on the UK’s departure from the bloc.
The House of Commons, the UK’s lower chamber of lawmaking, on Thursday, voted to delay the UK’s departure from the EU which is slated for March 29.
Prime Minister Theresa May is due to attend an EU summit on Thursday where she could file a request for a Brexit delay.
All 27 EU member states would have to unanimously agree to an extension.
Roth told reporters that this was not a game and that the situation was extremely serious for UK and EU populations.
The German minister added that the priority for his government was to avoid a no-deal Brexit and that there was no appetite within the EU for debates or abstract negotiations that lacked substance with the UK government over its departure.
On the other hand, French minister Nathalie Loiseau said that Brexit was suffering an impasse and that the EU expected a decision and strategy from London.
“If the United Kingdom requests a postponement, they must tell us why there must be a credible initiative behind it,” Loiseau said as she arrived for the meeting.
She added that she was against delaying Brexit for the sake of it and said that a no deal scenario was still a possibility, even though this was not her country’s preferred option.
This is a decision for the UK to take, the French minister continued, saying that within the current context if London did not take a decision then it would be, by default, opting for a no deal divorce.
When asked if she too shared the exhaustion of her German colleagues, Loiseau answered that exhaustion was not part of a politician’s life.
George Ciamba, Romania’s minister for European affairs and Chair of the Council, said that there was “less clarity today than yesterday” with regards to Brexit following a decision on Monday by the Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow, who drew on a 400-year-old convention to bar the UK government from having a third vote on May’s Brexit deal in the UK parliament.
It was already shot down twice.