EU Countries Urged to Unite Against Brexit Cherry-Picking

(Bloomberg) -- The leaders of France, Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg warned the British government that they won’t allow cherry picking of European Union rules, nor risk the bloc’s unity for a Brexit accord.

EU leaders are still waiting for the U.K.’s final proposals and at the moment any scenarios are still possible, Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel said after a meeting on Thursday with his Belgian and Dutch counterparts, Charles Michel and Mark Rutte, and French President Emmanuel Macron.

“It’s a bit of a comical situation and I think it’s important that we show solidarity and to have a common, coherent language among the 27 to avoid any cherry picking by Britain,” Bettel told journalists. U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May “is trying to make progress and this has to be welcomed.”

European Union chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier and U.K. Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab are meeting in Brussels on Thursday with a goal to get a deal on the U.K.’s withdrawal from the EU done by mid-November. The British and German governments are said to have abandoned key Brexit demands that could ease the path toward a deal, according to people familiar with the matter.

In Luxembourg, Macron said the 27 remaining EU members will stay “extremely united” in their approach to the Brexit question and won’t risk making the bloc weaker by demands that go against EU rules.

‘Profoundly Convinced’

“Any proposal that leads us in some way to have to choose to change our rules to accommodate a situation would weaken the rest of this construct, which we are profoundly convinced makes us stronger,” Macron told reporters.

The European Commission reacted to claims by a British lawmaker that Barnier had referred to May’s Brexit proposal, known as the Chequers Plan, as being dead, clarifying that in the EU’s view it included “positive elements” and that there could be further discussions on issues that still create problems.

A key issue remains finding an agreement acceptable to both sides on the so-called Irish border backstop. The Irish question must be solved to allow the two sides to reach an accord on a withdrawal agreement and avert the risk of Britain crashing out of the bloc without a deal.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.