Brexit Talks Shouldn’t Aim for Punishment, EU’s Moscovici Says

  • Britain remains ‘very important’ country, commissioner says
  • Moscovici in Luxembourg calls for clean, fair negotiations

The European Union’s economy commissioner struck a conciliatory tone on the prospect of Britain’s negotiations to leave the bloc, suggesting both sides should take time to prepare for talks and try to avoid acrimony.

“Brexit must not be a punishment” for anybody, Pierre Moscovici, the EU’s economic & financial affairs commissioner, told reporters in Luxembourg as he arrived for a meeting with euro-area finance ministers on Monday. “It must not be a punishment for Great Britain, or British citizens. It must not be a punishment for the citizens of the rest of the EU.”

Pierre Moscovici

Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

Moscovici spoke after returning from Washington, where the International Monetary Fund noted “a fraying consensus about the benefits of cross-border economic integration” in a week when a clearer timetable for Britain’s notification to leave the EU and the prospect of a more abrupt exit prompted the pound to drop to its lowest level since 1985. While talks in Luxembourg are focusing on Greece, the U.K. remains a distraction.

Brexit “is an element of context which worries all of us,” Moscovici said. “Now we know when it will be launched, meaning March 2017 is the date Madame May announced herself. So we should prepare, both on the British side and on the European side.”

While he cautioned that negotiations are months away, Moscovici still insisted that their tone should be cordial.

“We must have a clean, a correct negotiation,” he said. “We must have a discussion which is solid, based on principles, principles of the internal market for example,” Moscovici said, noting that “even if the U.K. is no more in some years to come a member of the European Union, it will remain a very important European country.”

Talks “have to be fair between partners that still respect each other, knowing that our recent past, our present and our future are -- whatever happens -- interlinked,” he said.

— With assistance by Rainer Buergin, Ian Wishart, Jonathan Stearns, Radoslav Tomek, Stephanie Bodoni, Caroline Connan, Corina Ruhe, and Celeste Perri

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