Posted on Sep 09, 2017
The European Parliament's Brexit coordinator Guy Verhofstadt has accused British Prime Minister Theresa May of “poisoning the diplomatic well” following the leak of a draft paper on migration.
The paper suggests limiting the number of low-skilled EU migrants who will be able to work in the UK after Brexit. It also refers to a limit of "three to five years" for skilled worker's permits, and would prioritise British workers over migrants.
This discrimination between skilled and unskilled workers is particularly contentious from the EU perspective.
Former Belgian Prime Minister Verhofstadt, 64, is the leader of the Alliance of Liberal Democrats in Europe, and has twice run unsuccessfully for the office of President of the European Commission.
He is oft referred to as a "Euro-fanatic", and is known for his "emotional" outbursts during parliamentary debates. He was recently criticised by UK Conservative MEP Syed Kamall for going "beyond his pay grade".
Kamall, also said that Verhofstadt “needs to stop trying to do Michel Barnier’s job and stick to his own role as an honest broker.”
This comes as Barnier, the EU's lead negotiator, criticised the lack of progress in the latest round of talks in Brussels.
“Time is passing quickly for us to reach a global agreement... At the current speed, we are far from being able to recommend to the European Council that there has been sufficient progress in order to start discussions on the future relationship, while we are finalising the withdrawal agreement throughout 2018.”
Many observers, however, are beginning to question if it is in fact the EU team that is closing down the negotiations by refusing to widen the talks beyond the so-called 'divorce bill', citizens rights (which was already addressed by both sides) and the question of the Anglo-Irish border (a matter that cannot be adequately addressed with clarification on the future customs relationship between the UK and EU).
Rumour is rife in Brussels at present that Verhofstadt may use next week's parliamentary session in Strasbourg to launch a further attack on the UK, possibly even suggesting that further negotiations with the UK are impossible.
On Wednesday (Sept 13th), European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, will give his annual "state of the Union" address to Parliament.
Juncker has also faced criticism of his behaviour during Brexit negotiations, and how he tackles the Brexit issue will be a major point of interest.
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