- EU Rejects Security Ties as `Bargaining Chip’ in Brexit Talks
The European Union won’t allow defense and security to become bargaining chips in negotiations with Britain over its exit from the bloc, EU President Donald Tusk said.
In Prime Minister Theresa May’s Wednesday letter that officially served notice of the U.K.’s intention to leave the EU, she wrote that failure to reach an agreement would weaken the “fight against crime and terrorism.” This led some EU leaders to condemn the use of cross-channel security as leverage in the negotiations.
“It must be a misunderstanding,” Tusk told reporters on Friday in the Maltese capital Valletta. “Our partners are wise and decent partners — and this is why I’m absolutely sure that no one is interested in using security cooperation as a bargaining chip.”
Tusk spoke two days after May triggered the U.K.’s exit procedures, starting two years of negotiations that will seek to disentangle a 44-year relationship. The EU issued guidelines on Friday for how it will approach those discussions and what its central priorities will be.
The EU will seek to hold talks about the bloc’s future relationship with the U.K. only after “sufficient progress” has been made in resolving the terms of Britain’s withdrawal, according to the guidelines. Tusk said progress will be determined by the European Council and that he hopes that could be achieved “in the autumn.”
Tusk also highlighted this month’s terror attack in central London, adding that it’s clear that fighting terror and joint security are “our common problem.”
Guy Verhofstadt — the European Parliament’s point person on Brexit matters and someone who will have a say on the final outcome — said on Thursday that “security is far too important to start to bargain it against an economic agreement.”