According to European Union Parliament’s chief Brexit negotiator’s verdict on Monday, Britain’s decision to break away from the EU was an opportunity to reform Europe and avoid a further breakdown in ties between its remaining member states.
A member of the European Parliament and also the former Prime Minister of Belgium, Guy Verhofstadt added that the election of US President Donald Trump, and what he views as Washington’s move toward more protectionism, is rather a wake-up call for the EU.
“The Brexit discussion is a good opportunity not only to discuss and negotiate a new agreement, a new partnership with Britain, but also to fix that now it is time to have a real government in Europe,” Verhofstadt said in an interview with Reuters in New York.
In June, Brits voted 52-48 percent to leave the European Union which caused a change of government leadership, appointing Theresa May as Prime Minister. On January 17, the Prime Minister declared that Britain will leave the EU’s single market when it cuts ties off with the European Union. She also added that she wants to start the process by March. However, Britain’s Supreme Court will rule on Jan. 24 on whether parliament must first agree to apply Article 50, which will be the official beginning Britain’s two-year divorce process with EU.
Verhofstadt said it was “far too early” to estimate the impact for Britain which is Europe’s biggest financial center.
“It is clear the transition needs to be limited in time. I have seen temporary things become eternal,” Verhofstadt said, adding: “What is far more important is a clear triggering of 50, a clear proposal by the British government and how they see the partnership in the future.”
“We have to see if they ask for a free trade agreement. It could be something different,” he said, according to Reuters reports.