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According to EU sources cited by German daily Bild, the European Commission’s lead Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, has warned that if no deal with the UK can be concluded in two years, there would be “chaos at the border, supply problems for Great Britain, especially when it comes to fresh products, and a serious disturbance of air travel.”
Meanwhile, the Financial Times reports that the EU-27 leaders are prepared to approve European Council President Donald Tusk’s Brexit guidelines with little alteration, according to senior diplomats. Tusk will convene a meeting of the EU-27 leaders on 29 April to formally adopt the guidelines. A senior diplomat said most member states believed that the text was balanced and that “there will be fine-tuning of the text we will spend a few hours on that but there will not be any significant change.” The diplomat added that there might be an effort to strengthen some of the language on the acquired rights of EU citizens but this centred on drafting questions rather than a substantive change to the text itself.
Elsewhere, the Financial Times reports that the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, is attempting to encourage EU member states with liberal economic outlooks to take a more active role in shaping EU policy to compensate for the UK’s departure. The report quotes diplomats from such countries who confirmed that dialogue began “right after the Brexit vote.” An official representing Finland was quoted as saying that liberal economic policy was “in our DNA, we don’t need Merkel talking points for that (as much as we love her).”
Separately, The Times reports of more than 80 meetings being held between Scottish First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, and her senior ministers with European leaders after the Brexit vote in order to win support for Scotland’s future within Europe.
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French Finance Minister, Michel Sapin, has warned that the City of London will lose euro-denominated trading operations after Brexit. “Everyone sees that…this goes to the heart of the resilience of our [financial market] arrangements and of our sovereignty over our money,” he said. He added, “I understood that one of the most effective stimuli and motivations behind Brexit was that Great Britain should take back its sovereignty. If Great Britain accepts today that the rules in force in London should be of the same nature, level, with the same effects [as those in Europe] and with the same judges to settles questions about how to apply them, I would say why not. But this doesn’t seem to correspond to the prevailing mood [in the UK].”
The Financial Times
According to Migration Watch, the EU’s proposed expansion of the ‘Blue Card’ scheme could ‘provide opportunities for British nationals to work in the EU even without any special agreement following the Brexit negotiations.’ The scheme aims to give highly qualified workers from outside the EU the right to live and work in a member state provided they meet specific conditions.
Reuters reports on a new UBS survey that finds 65% of business executives in Switzerland want the existing Swiss-EU bilateral agreements to be replaced by an institutional framework agreement with the EU. 27% of respondents were in favour of maintaining the bilateral deals and 8% wanted them scrapped.
The Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has said that Turks living in Europe were “oppressed” and “humiliated,” and, “God willing, our people will bring them [Europe] to account.” Speaking ahead of the Turkish constitutional referendum on 16 April, which would enhance his powers, he warned that, “The question of the European Union will again be on the table after 16 April,” adding, “They said a century ago that we were the ‘sick man’. Now they are the ‘sick man’. Europe is collapsing.”