Austrian Chancellor Kurz says orderly Brexit remains the goal
"We are in a very challenging phase, with the United Kingdom still unable to find a majority for the negotiated deal, but we still hope that an orderly exit will be achieved," Kurz said at a press conference after meeting with Michel Barnier, EU chief negotiator for Brexit.
Brexit, if happens, should happen before the elections of the European Parliament, because it would be "absurd" for a country seeking to leave EU to vote for its legislature, he noted.
If Britain needs more time for an orderly Brexit, then it is open for an extension of time, but the goals of the British would have to be clearly defined in advance, said Kurz.
Austria is well prepared in the event of a tough Brexit, and passed the so-called Brexit bill Wednesday in Parliament, said Gernot Blumel, Federal Minister within the Federal Chancellery for the EU, Arts, Culture and Media, at the news conference.
"We also discussed these preparations with the European Commission. What was possible, we did, but we still hope for a good outcome," he explained.
For his part, Barnier repeated that London needs to make a decision on its withdrawal deal rather than trying to delay the exit date.
"Today, we need above all a decision. It's more important than extra time," he told the news conference, adding that this was a "grave moment" for the process of Brexit.
He reiterated that the withdrawal agreement negotiated between the EU and Britain could not be changed.
"We have finished work! This text is the result of considerable effort that we have made with the British, not against them," he said, referring to the stack of paper in front of him.
Barnier also commented on the border situation between Ireland and Northern Ireland, saying that a permanent solution without borders on the island was the goal.
Britain is due to leave EU on March 29, but its parliament has rejected the government's deal so far, raising the specter of a chaotic no deal Brexit. ■