Should the EU make concessions to London?

After winning a no-confidence motion Theresa May has met with leaders of the opposition parties to hash out a Plan B for her Brexit deal. The EU has signalled willingness to make compromises if London gives up certain "red lines", in particularly on the question of freedom of movement for workers. It shouldn't be too accommodating, commentators warn.

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Jutarnji list (HR) /

This Britain we can do without

The EU should not make it possible for the British to stay in the EU after a second referendum, Jutarnji list warns:

“Even if the UK were to hold another referendum and end up staying in the EU, it would remain divided. And such a divided United Kingdom is the last thing the EU needs right now if it wants to grow strong again. So although Britain's backing down on Brexit is legally possible, it would be worse for the EU than a hard Brexit. ... A compromise to prevent the worst is still conceivable. But Britain must state clearly what it wants.”

Kauppalehti (FI) /

Britain must leave before May

Kauppalehti warns against postponing Brexit in view of the expected strong showing for Eurosceptic forces in the EU elections:

“Although there's still no guarantee that it will actually take place, Brexit is raising the tensions. ... If Britain hasn't left the EU by the end of May Britain will take part in the vote just like the other members. That could strengthen the Eurosceptic wing of Parliament. If that were to happen, the negotiations on the next EU budget after the EU elections will be extremely difficult. To say nothing of the process of appointing the EU's highest officials.”

NRC Handelsblad (NL) /

EU must keep its eye on its own interests

The EU is wrong in thinking that it must now make substantial concessions to London, warns NRC Handelsblad:

“While the British still can't decide what relationship they want to have with the EU, the EU's interests have not changed. It still wants as close a bond as possible with Britain, both economically and politically. On the other hand, Britain will soon become a nation that, despite being on friendly terms, competes with the EU. Therefore, there is no reason to make concessions that touch on the very foundations of the bloc by granting benefits to Britain that are unattainable to other member states. The historic evenings in London don't alter that.”

The Irish Independent (IE) /

Don't let them take us down with them

The Irish government must now concentrate on cushioning the consequences of a disorderly Brexit, urges The Irish Independent:

“The Irish Government should now heed the lessons of the chaos in Britain and step up 'no deal' planning to ensure that collateral damage in this country is kept to a minimum. The danger is the Government has been so focused on the negotiations, and attempts to avoid the train crash of Brexit, that it is now woefully unprepared for the aftermath of the impact. … Senior members of the British government may be happy to sacrifice their country in pursuit of Brexit - but we cannot allow them to take us down with them.”

Adevărul (RO) /

Ball now in Romania's and Poland's court

Which country can replace Britain as the counterweight to the German-French tandem in the EU, asks Iulian Chifu in his blog with Adevărul:

“Spain lacks the strategic clout compared with Britain, while Italy lacks the European identity as well as the economic power and balance. But Romania and Poland could jointly assume the UK's balancing role. Both countries have enough distance from Russia to counteract a rapprochement and an inappropriate opening of Western Europe to Moscow. They also both have a strategic and close relationship with the United States, and the awareness of the need to further integrate the United States into Europe's security strategy, so that they could replace Britain.”

The Spectator (GB) /

March 29 Brexit out of the question

An orderly Brexit on 29 March is no longer possible, warns columnist Robert Peston in The Spectator:

“There is no coming back for the Prime Minister’s Brexit deal from the scale of a defeat by 432 to 202, the worst defeat by a Government for more than a century. … So we are, as the PM warned we could be a few days ago, in uncharted territory. And given the uncertainties and the scale of negotiating and legislative challenges ahead, it is now almost inconceivable the UK will be leaving the EU on 29 March - and the question is whether the delay to Brexit would be temporary or permanent.”

Expressen (SE) /

Seek a friendly divorce

The House of Commons' resounding No could lead to a less conflictual separation from the EU, Expressen hopes:

“Naturally there is still the risk that the UK will leave the EU on March 29 without a deal, with all the consequences that entails, from shortages of good to the reintroduction of controls at the Irish border. But the danger of this happening has diminished since parliament began to take control of the Brexit process. Very few MPs want the UK to crash out of the EU. ... At the same time the chances of Britain having a close relationship with the EU in future, for example by staying in the customs union, have increased. ... It would be good if the UK's next step were to aim for closer relations with the EU. If the British want to reopen negotiations, the EU should greet them with open arms.”

Der Standard (AT) /

Resignation or U-turn

Der Standard sees only two options for Theresa May:

“Instead of reaching out to the opposition parties and other social groups after the Brexit referendum in the summer of 2016, May stubbornly held to her original plan for a hard Brexit. ... After the brutal defeat of her exit deal she must finally put the country's interests first - or make way for someone like her deputy prime minister David Lidington who can seek a cross-party solution. That solution is obvious: Britain remains in the customs union, Northern Ireland is given limited access to the single market as foreseen in the backstop solution. For that there would be a majority - unlike for May's sad efforts.”

De Morgen (BE) /

Majority has probably changed its mind

Now it's time to let the people speak again, De Morgen demands:

“The British population must be allowed to vote again on which leader should try to unravel this Gordian Knot. Then the British should be allowed to state in a referendum whether they still want Brexit or want to reverse it. ... It is a democratic duty to respect the vote of the small majority of Leave voters. But considering all the negative consequences that have become apparent during the Brexit process it is legitimate to examine whether they haven't change their mind.”

More opinions

The Evening Standard (GB) / 16 January 2019
  How May could reach out to Labour's pro-Europeans
The Irish Times (IE) / 16 January 2019
  Second referendum needed!