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18 September 2016

EU states ‘could veto Brexit deal’

ficoA group of Central European EU members known as the Visegrad Four is ready to veto any Brexit deal that would limit people’s right to work in the UK, Slovakian PM Robert Fico says.

In an interview with the Reuters news agency, Mr Fico said Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia would be uncompromising in negotiations.

His comments come a day after the EU’s first major meeting without the UK.

Brexit, though not formally discussed, overshadowed the Bratislava summit.

At the end of the summit, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker repeated that Britain could not achieve full access to the EU market that it would ideally like, if it closed off free immigration for EU citizens.

At the same news conference, Mr Fico underlined that he and other Central European leaders whose citizens make up much of the EU migrant population in Britain would not let those people become “second class citizens”.

But in the interview with Reuters he went further.

“V4 [Visegrad group] countries will be uncompromising,” he said. “Unless we feel a guarantee that these people are equal, we will veto any agreement between the EU and Britain.”

“I think Britain knows this is an issue for us where there’s no room for compromise,” he added.

All the EU leaders insisted there will be no formal Brexit talks until Britain triggers the two-year divorce process and says what it wants.

European Council President Donald Tusk, said the British Prime Minister Theresa May had recently told him that might be in January or February 2017.

The Bratislava summit was intended as a discussion about the best way forward, following Britain’s vote to leave the bloc.

In particular, leaders tried to find common ground on the best way to deal with the numbers of migrants coming into Europe, and how to deal with the after effects of several years of economic crisis.

The Visegrad group has consistently opposed EU efforts to introduce mandatory quotas for migrants.

But in the interview, Mr Fico said the EU had shifted from a debate over mandatory quotas to a new principle of “flexible solidarity” over the migrant crisis.

He said he did not get everything he wanted, but he was happy that a debate had begun on flexible solidarity, allowing countries to offer what they can to tackle the migrant crisis.

 

Source: bbc.com

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