Saturday, 20 January, 2018

May brushes off EU calls to settle Brexit divorce bill first

French President Francois Hollande answers journalists' questions as he arrives to take part in the EU summit at the Europa building the main headquarters of the European Council and the Council of the EU in Brussels May brushes off EU calls to settle Brexit divorce bill first
Melissa Porter | 01 May, 2017, 13:13

EU leaders' decision on where to relocate European Medicines Agency and Banking Authority must be unanimous.

Talks with Britain will now begin after British general election on June 8.

BRUSSELS-The European Union adopted its core positions Saturday for the coming Brexit negotiations, making it clear to Britain that talks on a future trade agreement remain months away.

The EU wants to start the negotiations with a discussion of Britain's financial obligations, the rights of EU citizens in Britain and British citizens in the EU, and Irish concerns around the Border and the Common Travel Area. The EU is striving to ensure that worse off outside it than inside, not least to avoid setting a precedent.

One EU diplomat said: "This was a rather incredible demand". "I believe we can give that assurance to those people at an early stage".

According to the paper, Juncker told German Chancellor Angela Merkel that May was "in a different galaxy", adding that it looked more likely now that no deal would be reached at all.

European Union leaders have also reiterated that they will rule out discussing the free trade deal May wants until they see what has been called "sufficient progress" on agreeing those key withdrawal terms.

Leaders could discuss progress at a summit on October 19-20 and take a decision on launching Phase 2 at the next, on December 14-15.

Among possible differences, the priorities of poor, eastern states are to secure residency rights for their many workers in Britain and British money for the European Union budget.

May brushes off EU calls to settle Brexit divorce bill first

Mr Kenny stressed, however, that the statement's goal was to ensure that Brexit "does not undermine any provision of the Good Friday Agreement", rather than to move towards Irish unity.

Reacting to the news, Labour MP Chuka Umunna said on behalf of the Open Britain campaign: "The EU's unity over their negotiating position shows the total disconnect between the Government's rhetoric and the reality of the situation".

Merkel said EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier told the leaders he hoped for agreement on the divorce phase by autumn, so the talks can move onto a trade deal.

The 27 remaining members states formally agreed their talks strategy at a special European Council meeting in Brussels.

"We have no plans to increase the level of tax, but I'm also very clear we don't want to make specific proposals on taxes unless I'm absolutely sure that I can deliver", May, 60, said on the BBC.

"Before negotiating our future relations with the United Kingdom, we must first achieve sufficient progress on the citizens' rights, finances and the border issues with Ireland", European Council President Donald Tusk said. "I have always been very clear that the conditions for a referendum do not now exist, but the endorsement of the principle, the potential agreement of the Good Friday agreement is hugely important".

Replying directly to the comments by Juncker, the PM said "what this shows... is that these negotiations are going to be tough..."

"This does not simply imply setting out a few principles", said Juncker.

Speaking ahead of today's meeeing, Enda Kenny said Ireland's agenda was clearly focussed on issues including the status of the north, freedom of movement and trade with the UK.