Central European countries expect the European Commission and other relevant EU institutions to make every effort to reach an agreement on the terms of Brexit, Péter Szijjártó, Hungary’s foreign minister, said on Sunday.
Britain’s exit from the European Union spells bad news for the bloc, Szijjarto said.
The minister attended an informal meeting of Foreign Minister Jeremy Hunt and representatives of the Visegrad countries, as well as Slovenia, Bulgaria, Croatia and Romania in Chevening, in south-east England.
Szijjártó told MTI that
the CEE region expects the EU to reach a Brexit deal which both sides can acknowledge as fair.
Failure to reach such an agreement would seriously undermine the interests of Central Europe, he said, adding that the region’s trade volume with Britain is massive, while British investments in the region’s economies are intensive. Further, millions of central Europeans study in Britain, and their rights must be guaranteed.
He branded the performance of the European Commission over the past four and a half years as “scandalous”, insisting that it had caused the EU “very serious damage”.
Szijjártó said a once stable transatlantic relationship had become fragile. Moreover, the inability to respond to the migration crisis had been corrosive, he said. Next year, for the first time in the EU’s history, there will be a decrease in the number of member states, he added.
Central Europeans have a clear interest in Brexit talks concluding with the deepest, most comprehensive and broadest possible free trade agreement, he said. Otherwise EU trade in the UK will continue with World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules, creating “extremely serious difficulties”, he added.
Given the emergence of a global trade war, Europe needs free trade agreements, strategic partnerships and friends, he said. Britain and the European Union cannot afford to part ways without such an agreement.
If Brexit does not happen accordingly, the four Visegrad countries will want to conclude joint initiatives to maintain and expand relations with Britain, Szijjártó said.
“We hope that we won’t have to consider scenarios that for a period after Brexit would be without an agreement. If this were to happen, it would be necessary to talk about it, but for now, any such scenario would be detrimental to the negotiations,” the minister said.