EU members lose patience as PM heads to capitals to negotiate Brexit
SEVERAL EU member states have started to look at whether they can suspend voting rights from the UK in order to force its hand in carrying out its Brexit process, according to international reports.
Bloomberg News spoke to the two European officials who made the comments on condition of anonymity, stating that Article 7 of the Lisbon Treaty could be used to force the UK PM to trigger Article 50 – the action necessary to officially begin Britain’s exit from EU.
The reports emerged a day ahead of UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s trip on Wednesday to Berlin and Paris for bilateral meetings with French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel to tackle questions surrounding Brexit.
The meeting comes after the UK-wide vote to leave the European Union (EU) last month, and Theresa May becoming the new prime minister following the resignation of David Cameron.
The EU Commission, the parliament or a third of member states could demand that the prime minister defend her tactics formally in front of EU leaders and then face a vote.
Officials on the continent have reportedly started to claim a position called 'the nuclear option' where they, in effect, suspend Britain’s voting rights in EU institutions.
This would mean arguing that the UK is no longer 'cooperating in good faith with the bloc' and this in turn would pressure Theresa May into invoking Article 50
Article 7 is the EU’s harshest sanctioning procedure and, like Article 50, has never been used before and, according to Bloomberg, three other officials in Brussels said it was too heavy-handed to even be considered. One of the officials who spoke to Bloomberg news said that EU governments would be happy to let the process drag.
According to the article's conditions, 23 member states would have to agree that the UK prime minister was shirking her 'duty to cooperate in good faith with the rest of the bloc'.
According to the official, a delay in negotiations could be welcome in the remaining EU states because of a perception that UK voters may be shifting away from Brexit. In an email to Bloomberg, Martin Dregeris, a spokesman for the Baltic nations’ foreign ministry said: "Latvia, for example, doesn’t view the punitive approach as a 'reasonable' action."
However, the EU Commission, the parliament or a third of member states could demand that the prime minister defend her tactics formally in front of EU leaders and then face a vote.
Theresa May has said that she will not invoke Article 50 to leave the EU until there is “a unified British position”.
Picture courtesy of DG
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