Europe

Brexit talks: A message to UK from Central Europe

Flags of Slovakia and the EU Image copyright Getty Images

The UK's biggest trading partners and neighbours will be most affected by its departure from the European Union.

But as EU leaders prepare for a crunch summit in Brussels amid hopes of a last-minute Brexit deal, the rest of Europe is also looking on.

The BBC's Bethany Bell travelled from the Slovak capital Bratislava to Austria, and then on to the heart of Bavaria in southern Germany, to ask what message local politicians wanted UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson to hear.

Bratislava: Slovak Liberal MP Katarina Csefalvayova

Avoid 'hard Brexit': "Of course we respect the decision taken by the British people. I have to say first that we are terribly sorry, here in Slovakia, that the UK is leaving us. I think that it will damage both the EU and the UK.

"It's in the best interest of all to make this divorce as amicable as possible and to avoid a hard Brexit. Any bad feelings and any tariffs or visas or other obstacles will have a very bad effect on both our economies and the lives of the people on both sides."

Image caption Independent Liberal MP Katarina Csefalvayova is head of the foreign affairs committee in Slovakia's national parliament

Message to Boris Johnson: "Try to make concessions mainly with Ireland. More broadly, I would say personally to Prime Minister Johnson to look to the long term, because I fear that politicians increasingly are only looking at the term of the next elections, and somehow are abandoning the best interests of the peoples they represent."

Vienna: Retired Austrian Social Democrat MEP Eugen Freund

We need more time: "[Boris Johnson] has been prime minister for the last two months or so, and there was nothing. There was no movement at all. And now in the final weeks, he found something which probably will not be enough.

"So the EU will probably tell him: if we negotiate on that very important deal for Northern Ireland and Ireland, then we need more time, and more time means extending the deadline of 31 October."

Image caption Eugen Freund has just retired as an MEP for the Austrian Social Democrats

Message to Mr Johnson: "It would be horrible for the European Union to lose Great Britain as a member of the EU. But if you go, try to get the best deal so that these two great peoples will have the closest relationship that is possible under the circumstances."

Munich: Bavarian Green MP Katarina Schulze

Stay close: "I have a really strong connection to the UK. I spent a wonderful exchange programme with my school there and I still have a lot of friends there. I know how our countries, how we in Europe are connected all together, how people are studying in the UK or studying in Bavaria and how companies have trade agreements between each other.

"So really, my wish from the bottom of my heart is that we find a way to hold this strong connection between the UK and us as Europe."

Image caption Katarina Schulze is head of the Greens in the Bavarian state parliament

Message to UK prime minister: "I really hope a good solution [is found] because I think it's important for our continent. It's important for many people; it's important for the many British people who for example live in Bavaria, and for the Bavarian people who are living in the UK; and for the relationship that we have and the single market, and our companies here in Bavaria have a strong connection with the UK."

Munich: Bavarian CSU MP Martin Huber

Better in than out: "I think the most important message is to say it's better being inside the European Union than outside. And I'm very grateful for the very constructive, but also very tight negotiations of the European Union because it is clear that you cannot have the same conditions as you have inside if you are on the outside."

Image caption Martin Huber is from the CSU, and on the committee of federal and European affairs in the Bavarian state parliament in southern Germany

Message to the UK: "Keep calm. Drink tea. Rely on your famous British humour. And remember Germany wins the penalty shootouts anyway."

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