Macron: EU’s unity is more important than relationship with Britain

Protecting the EU’s unity is more important than a strong relationship with Brexit Britain, French President warns

  • Emmanuel Macron said France wanted a ‘strong special relationship’ with the UK
  • But French President said this could not be at the cost of EU unity unravelling 
  • Theresa May has fought hard to win Macron’s backing for her Brexit vision  

French President Emmanuel Macron today warned the EU’s unity was more important than ties with Brexit Britain.

Mr Macron insisted France wanted a ‘strong, special relationship’ with the UK after it quits the EU in March but said this could not be at the ‘cost’ of the bloc unravelling. 

The intervention, in a major foreign policy speech at the Elysee Palace, are a blow for Theresa May who has fought for Mr Macron’s support in the Brexit negotiations.

Mrs May cut short the first leg of her summer holidays for talks with Mr Macron at his holiday home in the south of France.

French President Emmanuel Macron (pictured today at the Elysee Palace) today warned the EU’s unity was more important than ties with Brexit Britain 

Mr Macron insisted France wanted a ‘strong, special relationship’ with the UK after it quits the EU in March but said this could not be at the ‘cost’ of the bloc unravelling

But in a 90 minute address to French diplomats today, the President said: ‘France wants to maintain a strong, special relationship with London but not if the cost is the European Union’s unravelling.’

Brexit, Mr Macron said, ‘is a sovereign choice, which we must respect, but it can’t come at the expense of the European Union’s integrity’.

Outlining his diplomatic priorities for the year ahead, Mr Macron made no major policy shifts, but spoke forcefully on what he labelled the ‘crisis of multilateralism’ and the need to make Europe more ‘sovereign’.


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He called on Europe to be ‘a trade and economic power’, which defends its strategic interests and financial independence with tools that can fend off U.S. extraterritorial sanctions.

‘Multilateralism is going through a major crisis which collides with all our diplomatic activity, above all because of U.S. policy,’ he said.

‘The partner with whom Europe built the new post-World War order appears to be turning its back on this shared history,’ he said. 

In a 90 minute address to French diplomats today, the President said: ‘France wants to maintain a strong, special relationship with London but not if the cost is the European Union’s unravelling.’

Prime Minister Theresa May has ordered her Cabinet to meet on September 13 to work out a plan for critical areas not yet covered by no deal plans.

The Prime Minister has ordered her Cabinet to meet on September 13 to work out a plan for critical areas not yet covered by no deal plans. 

Mrs May has called her no deal crisis summit amid fears the row between Brexiteers and Remainers is undermining negotiations with Brussels.

The meeting comes as Dominic Raab risked a Cabinet row with Philip Hammond after questioning the worth of economic forecasts about Brexit, days after the Chancellor warned that no deal could cause major damage.

In an interview with the Sunday Times, the Brexit Secretary said that some projections needed to be treated with ‘a measure of caution’, adding that GDP estimates for 2019 ‘have been revised up.

Mr Hammond was accused of launching a ‘dodgy Project Fear’ on Thursday when he suggested that GDP could fall and borrowing could be around £80 billion a year under a scenario in which Britain resorted to World Trade Organisation (WTO) terms after a no-deal Brexit.

Without naming Mr Hammond, Mr Raab told the Sunday Times: ‘I’m always chary of any forecast because most of them have been proved to be wrong.’

What is in Theresa May’s Brexit blueprint? 

These are some of the key features of the Chequers plan being pushed by the UK government:

  • A new free trade area in goods, based on a ‘common rulebook’ of EU regulations necessary. This will require the UK to commit by treaty to match EU rules
  • ‘Mobility’ rules which will end automatic freedom of movement, but still allow UK and EU citizens to travel without visas for tourism and temporary work. It will also enable businesses to move staff between countries. 
  • Continued UK participation in and funding of European agencies covering areas like chemicals, aviation safety and medicines
  • A ‘facilitated customs arrangement’, removing the need for customs checks at UK-EU ports. It would allow differing UK and EU tariffs on goods from elsewhere in the world to be paid at the border, removing the need for rebates in the vast majority of cases. In theory this allows Britain to sign trade deals.
  • Keeping services – such as banking or legal support – outside of the common rule book, meaning the UK is completely free to set its own regulations. It accepts it will mean less trade in services between the UK and EU. 
  • Continued co-operation on energy and transport, a ‘common rulebook’ on state aid and commitments to maintain high standards of environmental and workplace protections. 
  • A security deal allowing continued UK participation in Europol and Eurojust, ‘co-ordination’ of UK and EU policies on foreign affairs, defence and development.
  • Continued use of the EHIC health insurance card. 

 

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