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EU’s Options after Brexit | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker December 18, 2014. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

Brussels – A week after British Prime Minister Theresa May formally triggered Article 50 of Lisbon Treaty, EU 27 leaders announced they will hold a summit in Brussels on April 6.

Earlier, British government announced it wants to inform the EU to formally activate the Brexit process by the end of March after which negotiations will begin.

On Wednesday, European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker unveiled EU plans for post-Brexit.

Juncker laid out five possible scenarios including reducing the European Union to just a single market, returning some powers to member countries and creating a “multi-speed” Europe.

He presented his 12-pages White Paper to the European Parliament in Brussels saying that however painful and regrettable Brexit may be it cannot stop the European Union on its march to the future.

One of Juncker’s options will be to allow EU countries to integrate at different speeds, with some nations choosing to cooperate more closely on areas such as the euro currency and defense even as others opt out.

Another option to concentrate on finalizing the EU’s single market of 500 million people, in a bid to end the economic crises that have beset the euro currency.

Further scenarios would be to defy the eurosceptics and follow the dream of a fully federalised Europe, or to follow the American model and focusing on a reduced agenda and leaving lesser matters to member states.

Leader of the socialist group in the European Parliament Gianni Pittella called the White Paper a “clear political mistake that reflects the institution’s short-sightedness.

Pittella told AFP that he is “disappointed with Juncker’s grand plan on the future of the EU.”

Juncker also urged national governments to “stop the Brussels-bashing” in a bid to win over increasingly eurosceptic voters.

During his speech before Belgium students, the commissioner said: “It is no longer the time to imagine that we can all do the same thing together. I will argue for this in the days to come.”

House of Lords may defy PM May by demanding guarantees for EU nationals living in Britain, delaying a bill she needs to start Brexit negotiations.

The opposition Labor party hopes it can include an amendment to legislation allowing May to trigger Article 50 of the EU’s Lisbon Treaty, which begins two years of divorce talks.

If members of the Lords vote to amend the bill, it must be returned to MPs in the House of Commons for further deliberation.

Former PM John Major accused May of “cheap rhetoric” and an “over-optimistic” view of Brexit.

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon warned she may be forced to recall for a new independence referendum to defend Scotland’s rights.

Eight months after the Brexit vote, the fate of more than three million EU nationals living in Britain remains uncertain, causing intense worry for those concerned.

Labor’s leader in the Lords, Baroness Angela Smith of Basildon, said the government’s response so far had been “deeply disappointing”.

“To continue to use people as bargaining chips in this way is not only shameful but could have a dire impact on the UK’s economy and essential services,” she said.

The amendment suggested by the Labor demands the government bring forward proposals within three months to protect the rights of EU and European Economic Area citizens legally resident in Britain. A similar amendment failed to pass the Commons when the bill was debated there last month.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd wrote that no guarantee could be given to EU nationals until official Brexit talks are agreed and a similar guarantee is given to Brits living in Europe.

She said in a letter to her peers that she “fully appreciates” their concerns about rights of EU migrants after Brexit.

She added that there is “absolutely no question” of treating EU citizens with “anything other than the utmost respect”.

However she warned if the UK guarantees the rights of EU migrants living in the UK it will leave British citizens living in the EU facing two years of uncertainty.

She stressed that the Government understands the need to “act fairly and provide certainty for both groups of people as quickly as possible”.