European Union states are broadly united in calling for Britain to quickly launch formal negotiations on leaving, and in rejecting new limits on migration within the bloc, a survey by Reuters has found.
The Brussels missions of 18 of the 27 other EU member states responded to questions from Reuters that included when Britain should formally notify the Union of its exit plan and whether the Union should consider further limits on the free migration of workers, which was seen a key factor in the Brexit vote.
1. Would you welcome Britain deciding to stay in the EU?
Most found the question too speculative and dependent on UK internal politics for them to answer. Of the 18, five clearly said they would be pleased if Britain did a U-turn. No state said it would definitely now prefer Britain to leave the EU.
A Lithuanian spokeswoman noted President Dalia Grybauskaite was asked what she would say if the British government did not launch the exit procedure: “Welcome back,” was her reply.
But an Austrian official summed up the general assumption: “There was a referendum and we assume there will be a Brexit.”
2. When should Britain formally notify the EU that it is leaving, triggering the two-year exit process under Article 50?
“As soon as possible,” was the reply of 13 out of 18, but few were willing to be more specific about how long that would be. Finland spoke of September. Others think by the end of the year.
A German spokesman was typical in this response, stressing a need to end uncertainty: “Insecurity is bad for the market.”
Two countries declined to answer.
Three, Hungary, Poland and Greece, voiced the clearest preference for not rushing.
Hungary’s mission said: “There is no rush in regard to the notification.” Poland said: “We do not want to rush the UK to notify its intention to leave.” A Greek spokesman said: “A good and beneficial Brexit agreement is more important than timing.”
3. Should the EU consider more limits on free movement?
Of the 18, 15 said no and three — Germany, Luxembourg and Ireland — did not reply directly to the question.
Bulgaria’s spokeswoman summed up the general view: “Free movement is a fundamental EU value that we must guard strongly.”
Latvia’s mission said: “Latvia would not be in favour of starting discussions on the overhaul of the core principle of the EU.”