The president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, has cancelled his trip planned for this Thursday and Friday to Gran Canaria, where he was to participate in a summit of outermost regions, so that he can continue in Brussels to wrangle with the UK as they attempt to close their controversial Brexit negotiations.
“Due to the many important events [happening] at the moment, the president has decided to cancel his visit to Spain, the president will stay in Brussels” said his chief spokesman, Margaritis Schinas, at a press conference.
The Heads of State and Government of the European Union have been called for an extraordinary summit this Sunday in the European capital, with the aim of “formalising and finalising” the “divorce agreement” negotiated between Brussels and London.
They must also agree a political declaration with which to lay the foundations for negotiating the future framework of relations with the United Kingdom, after it has become a “third country” following any exit from the EU.
The Spanish press appear to be reporting that the initial exit agreement already has the backing of the UK Government, despite the current uproar in the Westminster parliament, a raft of recent ministerial resignations and the prospect of a no-confidence vote in the Prime Minister, while we await the non-binding “meaningful vote” promised to parliamentarians and pressure increases to call new referendum on whether or not to adopt the deal, agreed in principal by negotiators with Theresa May, with the general backing of the Twenty-seven member states. Spain has submitted reservations however because it believes there is a lack of legal clarity about the situation in Gibraltar and have requested changes in the text before they give their support.
The vice president of the European Commission responsible for the Euro, Valdis Dombrovskis, reported on Wednesday that a final statement “has not yet been achieved” to close the text, negotiated between the EU with London.
“The Commission is prepared to consider a text and take action at all times,” said Dombrovskis, as it is the community executive who has to formally present the declaration, before it is elevated to the leaders for their final endorsement.
Juncker met yesterday in Brussels with the British Prime Minister, Theresa May, to advance the final negotiation. In the framework of ongoing contacts, the president of the community executive also spoke by telephone with the Prime Minister of the Spanish Government, Pedro Sánchez.
May faces continued murmurs of a rebellion from within her own Tory party, while the Northern Irish DUP, whose MPs prop up her minority government, have seemingly withdrawn their support for her or the agreement, and ever louder voices press for a so-called “people’s vote” to decide if the negotiated deal is really what the UK population wanted or voted for in the 2016 referendum, leading to further calls for pause and reflection prior to the scheduled pulling out of the EU on March 29th next year.
British Ambassador to Spain, Simon Manley, is expected to deliver a speech in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria next week, which it is hoped will help to clarify, for business leaders in the Canary Islands, just what can be expected from future relations with the United Kingdom, particularly in terms of trade and tourism, following March next year, when they are expected to either leave the EU or postpone any such separation until a deal more acceptable to the UK parliament can be reached.
Brexit rumbles on…