Europe News

Europe 'exhausted' by Brexit: EU ministers express open frustration with UK deadlock

Key Points
  • Prime Minister Theresa May has no majority in the U.K. parliament for a Brexit deal that she negotiated with the other 27 European countries. 
  • Britain and Northern Ireland is due to leave the European Union in ten days time.
  • Germany's Europe minister has begged the U.K. to come up with a plan.
French President Emmanuel Macron accompanies German Chancellor Angela Merkel after their meeting at the Elysee Presidential Palace.
Chesnot | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Europe is expressing a growing frustration with U.K. lawmakers' indecision on Brexit.

European ministers said Tuesday in Brussels that it was time to be clear about the process that is set to take the U.K. out of the European Union. After two years of talks and with only 10 days to go until Britain is due to leave, it is still unclear if the country will really end its membership of the bloc next week.

"We are really exhausted by these negotiations," Michael Roth, Germany's minister of state for Europe, told reporters.

"I expect a clear and precise proposal from the British government, (on) why such an extension is necessary. It is not just a game, it is an extremely serious situation," Roth said.

Prime Minister Theresa May has yet to secure a majority in the U.K. parliament for the deal that she negotiated with the other 27 European countries. It has been confirmed to CNBC that before Thursday's European summit, May will send a letter to EU Council President Donald Tusk requesting an extension to Britain's exit date.

A response from the 27 heads of state is uncertain and the details of May's request are yet to be revealed.

Germany's Roth begged the U.K. to come up with a concrete plan. "Please deliver. Dear friends in London, please deliver. The clock is ticking," he told CNBC Tuesday.

Delay to Brexit requires approval from EU
Delay to Brexit requires approval from EU

Echoing her German counterpart, Nathalie Loiseau, the French minister for European Affairs, told CNBC in Brussels that fresh thinking was required.

"We need something new, because if it is an extension to remain in the same deadlock that we are – how do we get out of this deadlock? This is a question for the British authorities," she said Tuesday.

Any request for a delay to the U.K.'s departure date will have to be approved by the other 27 countries, unanimously. At the same time, the EU has said it will only consider an extension, if Theresa May has a "credible justification."

If the EU does not reach a common position, London could crash out of the European Union without any deal at the end of next week.

When asked by CNBC how real is the possibility of a no-deal Brexit, France's Loiseau said: "It can very well happen."

This option would bring further uncertainty for business and citizens in both sides of the English Channel.

Some countries, including Portugal, believe that the EU should avoid a no-deal Brexit at all costs and are therefore in favour of a long extension.

However, other member states are reluctant, worried that delaying the U.K.'s departure would have consequences, especially on the upcoming EU-wide elections in late May.

"It is a choice to be made by the United Kingdom. They have said no to a no-deal and no to a good deal, they have to change their mind in one of these options," Loiseau said.