European Union to move on Brexit talks, Irish 'riddle' remains

Brunilde Fioravanti
Dicembre 18, 2017

"We will give the mandate for preparation for the Commission and ourselves for the negotiations for the future of our relations", Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite said, seeing those talks formally starting in March.

His comments serve as a thinly-veiled rebuke to the Prime Minister's promise to deliver a "red, white and blue Brexit", a day before she updates MPs on last week's crunch European Council summit.

As May left to return to London - she will not join the other 27 leaders for further discussions on Brexit and the euro zone - she said she was eager to move on, once her peers give the formal green light to trade talks on Friday.

Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern went further, saying even a primary school student could see that the "first phase" deal on the Irish border would come back to haunt the talks because it was impossible for Britain to leave the bloc's single market while avoiding a hard border on the island of Ireland.

Britain and the EU27 are now set to start discussing the terms of a post-Brexit transition period lasting about two years and the trading relationship.

Mrs May has said she wants both sides to approach the next phase of negotiations, which will determine the long-term shape of the United Kingdom relations with the European Union, with "creativity and ambition".

She said their agreement "is an important step on the road to delivering a smooth and orderly Brexit and forging our deep and special future partnership".

The EU has published its guidelines for phase two of the negotiations, with discussions on future economic co-operation not likely to begin until March.

"Some of us thought that she did make big efforts and this has to be recognised", EU Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker said Friday.

It makes clear that during the transition the European Union expects the United Kingdom to observe all of its rules - including on freedom of movement - and accept the jurisdiction of the ECJ.

He also added: "the British Government would be very unwise to accept" the EU's demand that "in the transition period we will be bound by the single market, the European Court and the acquis".

Conservative rebels have been concerned about plans to put the Brexit date and time - 11pm on 29 March 2019 - into law.

Praising Mrs May as a "tough, smart and polite" negotiator, he said he was "entirely convinced" that the final agreement reached would be approved by the United Kingdom and European Parliaments.

Mrs May is set to discuss her vision of the "end state" for the United Kingdom outside the European Union at a cabinet meeting on Tuesday, having suffered her first Commons Brexit defeat earlier this week.

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