Slow Brexit progress worries Solberg

brexitGerman Chancellor Angela Merkel, left, speaks with British Prime Minister Theresa May, center, and French President Emmanuel Macron prior to a round table meeting at an EU summit in Brussels on Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017. British Prime Minister Theresa May headed to a European Union summit Thursday with a pledge to treat EU residents well once Britain leaves the bloc. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)

Britain’s Prime Minister, Theresa May, believes it is urgent to move forward in the Brexit negotiations. In contrast, France and Germany are not in such a hurry. Norwegian Prime Minister, Erna Solberg, is however worried about the slow negotiation progress. “I’m afraid it is all going too slow and we can get into a difficult situation,” she told NTB.

On Thursday, Solberg was in Brussels to attend a meeting with conservative leaders before the EU summit on Thursday and Friday. At the summit, the EU will set up its status in negotiations with the United Kingdom.

Charm offensive
Prime Minister Theresa May has attempted to apply a diplomatic charm offensive ahead of the meeting. She says it is urgent to reach an agreement on, in particular, the rights of EU citizens in the UK and the British in the EU. “I hope we will be able to make progress in the weeks that come”, she said on her way to the summit.

But the EU remains. Especially France and Germany have insisted on pushing the British. They want the British to give more before the EU agrees to open part two of the negotiations. In part one, only the conditions around the break itself are to be discussed. The British aim is to move quickly to part two, which will also include transitional arrangements and the framework for a future trade agreement.

New promises
In order to get closer to an agreement, May published an open letter to EU citizens living in Britain today. In this letter, she introduced new promises, including simpler procedures for registering as a resident in the UK. This is based on the requirements of the EU.

However, the EU has also insisted that the European Court of Justice must have a role as the guarantor of the rights, even though the UK will no longer be a member of the EU. The British have denied this so far. In addition, there is disagreement about the rules for family reunification and export of welfare benefits.

Time pressure
The EU is also trying to push the British to admit to promises about the economic settlement. According to the British, the EU is hereby using the limited time as a means of pressure. “The simple truth is that we are in negotiations, and they spend their time to see if they can squeeze more money out of us. That’s what’s going on, and it’s obvious to everyone”, says British Secretary of State for exiting the EU, David Davis, in a recent discussion.

On March 29, 2019, the United Kingdom will leave the EU, with or without agreement. Solberg’s nightmare is that time is going to run out without being able to define an agreement. “It’s only 17 months to reach the deadline, and if the Brexit will be difficult, it is also extremely demanding for Norway”, Solberg told NTB.

©  NTB Scanpix / Norway Today