May 1, 2019 / 7:29 AM / 3 months ago

British MEPs in next EU parliament could create 'messy' situation - Katainen

FILE PHOTO: European Commission Vice President Jyrki Katainen addresses the European Parliament during a debate on the US decision to impose tariffs on steel and aluminium in Strasbourg, France March 14, 2018. REUTERS/Vincent Kessler

WARSAW (Reuters) - The prospect of British candidates getting into the European Parliament and then leaving after Brexit could create a “messy” situation in the run-up to the selection of European Commision president, the body’s vice president said on Wednesday.

Jyrki Katainen told journalists in Warsaw that the election of British MEPs in May and then their departure could create a temporary shift in the balance of power in the assembly.

“The UK has been given a deadline (to leave the EU) which is later in the autumn but the Commission president might be elected before that ... It looks very messy at the moment,” he said.

“We have to make sure all MEPs have the same rights and responsibilities because we cannot be in a situation where some MEPs have a partial mandate ... But a temporary majority may cause lots of questions and troubles,” he added.

Katainen was in the Polish capital to attend a summit of countries which have joined the EU in the last 15 years.

The European Union’s leaders agreed in April to give Britain until the end of October to leave.

But nearly three years after Britons voted to leave the EU by 52 to 48 percent, the main parties, and the country, are deeply divided over Brexit, leaving it unclear when, and even if, Britain will leave the bloc.

Reporting by Joanna Plucinska, Writing by Joanna Plucinska and Alicja Ptak, Editing by Andrew Heavens

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