Buying time comes at a cost

Following EU Council President Tusk, Chancellor Merkel and French President Macron have also spoken out in favour of postponing the Brexit. They want to buy time – but they do not mention the price.

“If Britain needs a little more time, we won’t refuse,” Merkel said at a meeting with Macron in Paris. But the agreed exit agreement is still valid.

The main problem is the Brexit deal, which was negotiated in a secret “tunnel” and above all reflects the wishes of the EU. Especially against the “backstop” for Ireland there is resistance in London.

Another problem is the European elections. If the British are still members of the EU after the vote at the end of May, then the voters do not know which Union they are voting on – the EU-27 or the EU-28 (with the UK)?

If the extension goes beyond June, the British will even have to elect new MEPs. The election in the UK would then become a vote for or against the EU, for or against the Brexit.

In the end, British MEPs who are not in the mood for the EU or who want to undermine the work of the Parliament could move into the new European Parliament. The block of brakemen would be bigger.

The whole thing would be an economic stimulus package for EU sceptics and opponents. The AfD in particular could rub its hands. It already shares a common cause with the Tories – and threatens itself with a “Drexit”.

The extension therefore comes at a high price. It actually only makes sense if the Brexit is extended immediately until the end of 2020 or indefinitely, as proposed by Council President Tusk.

Brussels and London could then begin negotiations on future relations. Ideally, the result would be a partnership agreement that would make the “backstop” superfluous.

But Merkel and Macron only want to allow “a little more time” – probably so little that the British won’t have to take part in the European elections. They don’t say when the deadline would be.

They are thus contributing to even more uncertainty. It’s not just May who makes the Brexit unpredictable. By playing for time, Berlin and Paris are also putting the European elections at risk.

I would like to know what the European Parliament has to say about this. But the MEPs seem paralysed…

Translated with