The former head of the European Council, one of the European Union’s most important bodies, says serious Brexit talks between Britain and the European Union are unlikely to start until the end of next year because of German elections.
Herman van Rompuy told the BBC that negotiations are unlikely until Germany forms a new government after next September’s elections.
“Before the German elections and before there is a new German government, I think no serious negotiations will take place.
“You can always start with more technical matters, but the hardcore, the difficult topics, will be tackled after the constitution of a new German government and that will be October/November.”
This may come as a blow to the British government. While Theresa May has said she will not trigger Article 50, the official EU leaving mechanism, until 2017, Britain likely would have wanted to make some progress on parameters of negotiations before then.
BuzzFeed News, for instances, reports on Thursday that British negotiators are pushing for a separation of single market access and free movement of people in negotiations, a key battleground for Brexit.
Belgian van Rompuy, president of the EC from 2009 until 2012, told the BBC that the June 23 referendum on European Union membership was “a historical mistake and one of the rare examples of where a country decides to vote against its own interests.”
He says European leaders warned former prime minister David Cameron that the vote was a mistake and says European leaders view the Brexit decision as “political amputation of the first degree.”
van Rompuy also described the EU’s top Brexit negotiator, former Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt, “very, very tough” but “very pragmatic.” Former UKIP leader Nigel Farage attacked Verhofstadt’s appointment as “pretty much a declaration of war on any sensible negotiation process.”
27 EU heads of state, excluding Britain, meet in Bratislava on Friday to discuss the future of the EU.
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