Senior leaders of EU member-states are privately urging negotiators “to get Brexit done” in a remarkably similar slogan to Boris Johnson’s Get Brexit Done pledge in last year’s general election. Professor James Downes revealed the eerie imitation from Brussels, as he remarked how EU leadership was erupting in bitter Brexit infighting. He told CNBC that the EU was “besieged” by an unprecedented number of crises at the same time, leaving Brussels leadership “paralysed”.
The lecturer from the Chinese University of Hong Kong spoke on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Brexit negotiations.
He explained: “You have big differences between different EU leaders.
“You have Mark Rutte from the Netherlands disagreeing about this COVID-19 budget policy and this volatility is just increasing inside the EU.
“No-one knows what type of arrangement will be struck between the UK and EU.”
Professor Downes continued: “Brexit is significant economically and politically but there have been signs lately among the EU hierarchy and leadership that they just want to get Brexit done now.
“I think if the negotiations continue at the pace they are, we will see the likelihood of a hard Brexit continuing.
“That will induce greater volatility for the markets.
“With COVID-19 pandemic, the US-China dispute, global markets and the EU recovery initiative, the EU is besieged from all sides from so many different crises.
“These are all occurring at the same time period and they haven’t faced anything like this before.
“The EU’s multi-level frameworks makes it difficult to achieve unanimity, to get 100 percent approval from different member-states, to get a bailout or a deal.
“This policy paralysis will mean the EU wants to get Brexit done as soon as possible.”
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He added: “Given the great difficulties that COVID-19 has caused in member-states like Italy and Spain, the EU want to get the overall economy working and Brexit has been a thorn in their side for the last four years.”
This comes as the bloc’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier said a post-Brexit deal between Britain and the European Union is “still possible”.
He added: “The ball is in the UK’s court.”
Boris Johnson has said he believes a deal can be reached by the end of July, but the EU is aiming for an October deadline.
Meanwhile, in the EU, French President Emmanuel Macron is pressuring European counterparts who have refused to back his massive spending programme to revive the EU economy.