European Union says Brexit negotiations could take longer

Remigio Civitarese
Ottobre 13, 2017

The European Commission president's warning comes as the EU's 27 leaders prepare next week to begin internal discussions, without Britain, on trade after Brexit.

"We will not be able to say in the European Council in October that now we can move to the second phase of negotiations", Juncker said.

"They are discovering, as we are, day after day new problems. That's the reason why this process will take longer than initially thought", he said.

On the question of Britain's "divorce bill" - which he previously suggested could come to around £50 billion - Mr Juncker said: "We can't find for the time being a real compromise as far as the remaining financial commitments of the United Kingdom are concerned".

"If you are sitting in a bar and if you are ordering 28 beers and then suddenly some of your colleagues is leaving. that's not feasible, they have to pay, they have to pay", Juncker said.

"Not in an impossible way, I am not in a revenge mood, I am not hitting the British". I'm not hating the British.

Negotiations so far have been slower than expected, with hopes that the United Kingdom would reach a key milestone by a European Council meeting next week now evaporated.

The three key issues are citizens' rights, Ireland and the UK's financial obligations to the European Union, which must be partly resolved before negotiators are allowed to discuss a future trade relationship after Brexit.

The UK however believes this framework is too strict, and in particular wants to discuss transitional arrangements before these issues are concluded.

The EU is refusing to fully engage in those negotiations until it judges that "sufficient progress" has been made in the three issues of the co-called Brexit bill, Ireland and citizens' rights. Still, "decisive" progress could be made in time for the next European Council meeting before Christmas, he said.

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