Franco-German divisions laid bare in Brexit talks
To delay. Brexit from six months overriding the objections of French president Emmanuel Macron and setting a Halloween deadline for Britain to leave the block lettering. Con talks to Alex Barker and Gotcha Zan about the considerations informed. The discussions. Onyx? It's the often after very long Brexit summit. We left the building around four o'clock in the morning. We had a result. What was it? So it was Otto thirty first Halloween is the new day for Brexit. It was a difficult discussion. The second time that you leaders of come together in the last month to extend Britain's membership in the union and its controversial because there were very clear differences of you typically between France and Germany over the merits of Britain staying within the union, and it became very clear through the course of the night way. You had the French president Emmanuel Macron taking a very tough approach initially, especially making clear that he wanted a short extension in may or June to keep pressure on the UK to force a decision about this to avoid the UK taking part in European elections next month. For parliament. They want to leave. And at the other end, the majority of you leaders who wanted something that was longer that would take Brexit of their agenda for up to a year and Angola Merckel was one of the strong advocates of that approach in that group as a summit seemed to go on we had to raise may coming doing her dress. But there's only one leader that was the focus of events. And that was mR Macron became out telling us that he was happy with the best possible compromise. And remarkable also came out and said that she was very happy with the result guy. What was the role of the charter in getting Macron into medium extension territory, the, but he's happy with and she was happy with what was have influence over him. I think she had a kind of moderating influence over Macron. I think you had essentially French president with a very tough hard line approach is is is described and you have the other. The camp that wanted to sort of extend it much further out to possibly as far as April next year. And I think Michael was trying to edge towards a compromise that was satisfied both camps. And I think it was very important that she talked about the e use historic responsibility. This is an abiding feature of the kind of rhetoric that Merckel uses on Brexit. She believes that people in twenty to thirty years time. We'll look back and judge the EU on how it handled Brexit, especially the whole concept of a no deal Brexit. She thinks that history will judge the European Union extremely harshly. If it allows written to crash out without a deal. So I think that is her overriding priority in these negotiations to ensure an orderly Brexit one that doesn't damage the version Konami also doesn't damage the European the German economy. So we're left with this Halloween date and. Effectively splitting the difference between the two council were ended up equidistant, but October thirty first the beginning of November is also quite an important moment in the political cycle. Alex. Why does it matter in a year of quite big upheaval that we're in October toiletry rather than say December? What does it mean in the us life cycle post-election world? It's a big transitional year for the EU all of institutions will have a new president appointed in the coming year. And November is a time when the European Commission leadership will change and Brown's had worried that Britain's continuation as a Member State would start kind of pollute the normal day-to-day business of the EU, and it retains all the rights and powers of membership yet wants to leave this union and November's the point where it would have been potentially nominating. A European Commissioner. From the UK and would be taking decisions about shaping the club in the future. Even when Britain still intended to leave. And so this provides a bit of security about those concerns by limiting the kind of influence of the UK would be able to have their will other commitments given. But it's quite hard to do it legally because alternately all the voicing powers Britain has would still be there. I'm gonna Mirka when she walked into the room. We saw laughing and joking one diplomat described demeanor as quite relaxed on the other hand you had Mr. Macron for whom the stakes were very high. He walked into the room telling us that unit his project, the sorts of of the was a stake in the end we managed to come somewhere in the middle. But was this a seminal summit for the Franco-German relationship were talking to someone an expert on the think tank in Berlin softening who made a very interesting point, which is the really in a way the difference that we have between France and Germany on this issue of delaying. Brexit is actually indicative of much bigger split between Germany, and France, which is their attitude to reform the EU, I mean Micron essentially has this idea that Brexit is a big distraction from as you put it the European renaissance, and the sooner we get rid of this destruction the better so that we can get on with the task. Of reforming overhauling the EU. Now Merckel is very very cautious. We know that. But she's quite conservative. When it comes to big rolls of the dice, reforming the EU. So actually for her this issue of Brexit being a distraction is actually less relevant because overhauling the EU is also less of a priority for her on. It's actually becoming increasingly difficult to persuade Taryn party the Christian Democrats of the wisdom of doing these bold reforms. So in a way, she is much more supportive of these sort of incremental steps and also in a way, she's trying desperately to ensure that there are no big cataclysms that will hurt the EU and could actually lead to the disintegration of the EU. That's her main concern is keeping the EU together. And I think she feels that Brexit is potentially such a destabilizing thing that needs to be managed incredibly well in order to keep. P- a you cohesion to maintain aid. You you should not sexually top priority. Alex. He's been in Brussels long enough to know that the Franco-German relationship has been through a few ups and downs. How would you judge where we are right now given that yesterday or last night very apparent the mR Macron was pretty isolated an even though Michael bottom around. He seemed to have backed himself into a bit of a corner is that an ominous sign for how these two partners go ahead and future. I mean, the French president had a bit of support in the room. But clearly he was in a minority, and it's very rare to see such clear differences in public while public as a summit gets voiced clearly in such a sustained manner over something that's as important as this issue, the French and Germans tend to keep their differences private or try to always huge divergences in outlook of many big policy areas. But. It's more and more creeping into the public realm. They're more comfortable about speaking in opposition to each other and use that to some extent last night, some of it was tactical considerations. Should they go short and keep the pressure on the UK to make the labor party feel that there was a no deal imminent that it was time to really compromise. Or should they go long take it off, the EU agenda give the UK time and possibly make all the Brexit. Who think a no deal is a good thing. Think that the whole Brexit may be lost in it's time to compromise and do a deal. So that was a legitimate question there, but underlying the differences between the French and gyms was more fundamental difference in outlook about the European interest over Brexit in mccombs view. It is in the European interest for this to end as soon as possible and potentially for Europe to continue without the UK. In the view of Berlin. It would be better for this to resolve itself in his consensual away as possible and ideally probably for the Brits to stay in. That was the fundamental difference in outlook, the orientated both leaders last night and actually caused all the trouble in the room. No leaders last night ruled out another extension pasta. But which means we could be back having this clash of philosophies again. And it'll be interesting to see whether if we're back in Newton, Macron's vision might win over the longer ones. But. We'll have to wait and see very much guys.