Paris (dpa) - After his inaugural visit to Chancellor Angela Merkel, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson today promotes his Brexit course in France.
Johnson wants to make changes to the EU exit agreement with Brussels - but so far met with rejection. Merkel and he signaled on Wednesday in Berlin both willingness to talk, but remained hard in the matter. Nevertheless, Merkel expressed the hope that a solution could be found in the central issue of Ireland within the next 30 days. Johnson agreed.
French President Emmanuel Macron awaits Johnson in Paris for lunch. In addition to the British EU exit, the G7 summit, which begins on Saturday in the French seaside resort Biarritz, the Iran crisis and the Syrian conflict on the agenda.
Johnson has committed to take Britain out of the EU on October 31, with or without agreement. In a letter to EU Council President Donald Tusk, Johnson had officially demanded the removal of the EU's requested guarantee clause for an open border in Ireland. Instead of this so-called backstop, he held out other "obligations" in the UK. What he meant, he left open.
France now views Britain's unjustified exit from the European Union - a Brexit without agreements - as very likely. "Today, the central scenario of Brexit is that of a no-deal," it said, according to the French news agency AFP on Wednesday by the Paris Presidential Office.
Johnson said on Wednesday in Berlin again: "The backstop has big, big flaws for a sovereign, democratic country like the United Kingdom, it just has to be canceled." Britain also wanted a "negotiated exit" from the EU and no unregulated Brexit. "We can do it," he added in German in reference to a sentence by Merkel in the refugee crisis.
Merkel, for her part, pointed out that the backstop was only intended as a transitional rule for the irresolute Irish question. So far, it has been assumed that a final solution will be found in the next two years. "But maybe you can find them in the next 30 days, why not, then we're way ahead," she said. Merkel also indicated that border controls between Northern Ireland and Ireland would become superfluous and the integrity of the single market could be safeguarded if it was clear what the future relationship between Britain and the EU would look like.
But that is only conceivable if London decides to have a close partnership with Brussels in the future. That's exactly what Johnson wants to prevent. Therefore, he insists that the backstop must go away. He envisages a free trade agreement with the EU on the model of Canada. This would make border controls at the Irish-Irish border unavoidable from a Brussels perspective.
French President Emmanuel Macron is considered a hardliner in poker for Britain's exit from the European Union. He spoke several times against a long delay of Brexit. Macron would have almost blocked the last extension. The European Union could not be permanently "hostage" to a political crisis solution in the UK, he had said in the spring. He left the option of Chaos Brexit until last on the table in the negotiations in Brussels.
Thus, the French head of state had quite upset the round in Brussels. Chancellor Merkel, in particular, had set herself the task of subordinating all other interests to the goal of an orderly Brexit. In the end, Macron had grudgingly accepted the deadline extension - but he does not want to accept any changes to the agreed withdrawal contract.
A no-deal Brexit would also have a heavy impact on France. The French port of Calais is the main access to the United Kingdom. The no 40-kilometer-wide English Channel between Dover and Calais is with its ferries and the nearby Eurotunnel traffic junction.
If there is a Brexit without agreement, then the external border of the EU is also in the port of Calais. It would be necessary from one day to the other customs controls. The region would become a bottleneck. Calculated with mega mouse. France has already invested several million euros in the infrastructure of the important port to equip it for a no-deal Brexit. New customs officials were hired and huge parking lots were built for unlicensed trucks.