STRASBOURG (Reuters) - The European Parliament will not accept an agreement for Britain’s exit from the European Union that would endanger any of the four EU freedoms, including the freedom of movement of people, parliament’s negotiator Guy Verhofstadt said on Tuesday.
Verhofstadt spoke to reporters after meeting Britain’s minister in charge of leaving the EU, David Davis.
“It is impossible to find a solution that would destroy the so-called four freedoms,” Verhofstadt told a news conference.
“These four freedoms are key, they are a basic element of the European Union: the freedom of movement of goods, services, capital and of people. We will certainly never accept whatever development where these four freedoms at put at risk,” he said.
He said he agreed with Davis that talks on Britain’s exit, or Brexit, from the EU should conclude before the next European parliamentary elections in 2019, after Britain submits a formal notice that it wants to leave by the end of March 2017.
“I also underlined the fact that parliament needs to give its consent. That takes a few months so the window for negotiations in fact, if you look to it more in detail, is more or less 14-15 months, let’s be honest,” Verhofstadt said.
Speaking separately, Davis said Britain will have sorted out its position on migration, security, and the single market before it submits the formal exit notice by the end of March but it needed time until then to “get it right”.
“What we’re after is that which is in the interest of the Union and in the interests of the United Kingdom: trading interests, business, manufacturing and services and the aim is to make it as open as possible ... that’s the clear overarching aim,” Davis said.
Reporting By Jan Strupczewski, Philip Blenkinsop and Alastair Macdonald