Antonio Tajani, the new President of the European Parliament, has told Sky News that Theresa May’s decision to call a snap General Election could help the Brexit negotiations.
After meeting the Prime Minister in Downing Street, Mr Tajani said: To have stability in the UK is better for us.
For us to have the next years the same interlocutor, the same government, is better because we will know the strategy and the ideas of the UK, to negotiate an agreement with the same government is better for us.
A Government with an election campaign after Brexit agreement immediately is not good for UK nor for us. The stability of the UK is important.
Mr Tajani, whose organisation has a veto on the final Brexit withdrawal deal, said the meeting went well.
He believes the new UK Parliamentary timetable now fits well with the European Council’s timetable of a two-year exit deal negotiation followed by a three-year transition phase.
But he stressed that the issue of reciprocal EU citizen rights should be negotiated immediately with a view to getting an agreement by the end of the year.
He did not say that Britain should act unilaterally as suggested by some UK political parties. Only if a deal on rights was not available would the Parliament consider using its veto, he said.
The European Parliament will vote against only if the citizens rights is outside. We want the same rights today, tomorrow for the European citizens living here, and the British citizens in Europe.
We need to start immediately on this at the beginning of the negotiations. We need a clear message for the citizens. This is the priority. We need to send a clear message on rights.
Asked where the reciprocity lay in trying to charge a massive exit fee, put at around £50bn, for leaving the EU, Mr Tajani said: No we have to be clear on this, the UK will pay only the money, nothing more nothing less.
It’s too early for quantity of money, probably billions, we need to check at a technical level. The benefits are for farmers of Scotland, small businesses. Not less, not more money, and not money for leaving the EU.
He said tariffs could not be ruled out but that this is your decision.
He said it was impossible to have full access to the Single Market without freedom of movement and that it is impossible to be outside the European Union with the same rights.
Downing Street welcomed the meeting and confirmed that the citizen rights issue is an immediate priority.