Maltese MEP Alfred Sant has been interviewed in Brussels by UK Channel 4 journalist Georg Von Harrach, on the recent revelations on the UK Government’s migration plan which will end the free movement of labour immediately after Brexit, and introduce restrictions to deter all but highly-skilled EU workers.
The MEP remarked that it is the interest of both the EU and the UK to come to some deal and have a good working relationship after Brexit.
Dr Sant added that “the tone of the British proposals will harden the position of some member states, especially in Eastern Europe, which initially would have been quite sympathetic to Brexit.”
Alfred Sant pointed out that, “on the other hand both sides stand to lose and gain. The Germans and the French stand to gain from the financial services that the British will be losing. And in terms of hard trade, goods trade – both sides stand to lose and gain.”
“Each side will be making its calculations to go forward. At the moment it looks like Europe is making these calculations as a block, which it is, but when the time comes for the details there will be different perspectives as well,” Sant added.
Dr Sant described it as “new territory,” when quizzed about the concept of having the UK restrict immigration during a transitional period and at the same time enjoying all the current trade benefits.
Sant went on to say that, “the UK is going to try to get the best bargain, while the Europeans will restrict that and get themselves the best bargain. So really there is no kind of defining point at this point in time. Both sides are making their negotiation points in detail. They will have to come out with crunch detail decisions that will reflect their mutual strength.”
The Maltese MEP commented that the UK is “trying to get freedom of movement restrictions, and yet benefit from the other three freedoms enjoyed by EU membership.”
“The UK might not get its way on this one, but on the other hand there are other things up for discussion, like the financial settlement, like Ireland, like all the other points that relate to the financial services, security and terrorism,” stated Dr Sant.
He added, “decisions cannot be taken on one chapter without going into detail on other chapters. At this stage you can’t rule anything out because negotiations in Europe are carried out during long mid-night discussions where at the end there is some kind of solution that is a mish-mash of different positions.”
The Channel 4 journalist said, “a final question as a former Prime Minister, what do you make from the British tactics in these negotiations so far.”
In his response, the Maltese MEP said, “they remind me of the tactics that used to be carried out by Malta back in the 1970s with the British on the use of the military base on the island. You start from a strong position then you negotiate down the line.”