CHIEF Brexit negotiator Guy Verhofstadt has conceded that the EU could be on the brink of complete disintegration as a result of Brexit.
The chief negotiator for the European Parliament said this is the last chance “before a collapse or disintegration, which is always possible”.
He said: “If we look to the pressure on the European Union for the moment coming from outside and inside.
The EU’s chief negotiator admitted the bloc faces an existential crisis
It’s an existential moment for the European Union
“Then there’s also the threat of jihadism and then internally we have enormous pressure by nationalists, populists, the whole question of Brexit, so it’s an existential moment for the European Union,
“Now is the time to reform, otherwise it could disappear.”
The Belgian politician and arch European federalist will be one of the senior figures at the table during negotiations between Brussels and the British government.
The European Parliament will have to approve the final Brexit deal
However, Mr Verhofstadt has been a strident critic of Brexit slating the campaign that won the June referendum, describing it as “populist” and chiding many figures within the Leave movement.
He has warned Britain to not expect special treatment during negotiations. The EU is under pressure to not be seen to give the UK a favourable agreement so as to not bolster other anti-EU movements within the trading block.
Theresa May is due to trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty next month which will begin formal negations to leave the trading block.
Mr Verhofstadt’s shock admission underlines the fraught position of Brussels during the negotiations, which have a two-year deadline following the triggering of Article 50.
Jean-Claude Juncker and Theresa May will face many tough months of negotiation
The arch-federalist, once described as an EU “fanatic”, said: “What I know is the outstanding commitments now and before Britain will leave the European Union will in total be around €600billion (£513billion).
“That’s the reality and you can find in the accounts of the EU.”