Monday

29th Nov 2021

Barnier to UK: trade talks will come after settling accounts

  • Barnier said settling the UK's financial bill before leaving the EU is "not a punishment" (Photo: European Commission)

The UK needs to conclude all the terms of its EU exit including its liabilities, before talks on a trade deal and the future relationship can start, the EU's chief negotiator said on Wednesday (22 March).

Michel Barnier said that an orderly withdrawal is pre-requisite to discussions on the future relationship.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

"If we do not end these uncertainties and push them to the end of negotiations, we will be headed for failure," he said in a speech at the European Committee of the Regions.

London has hoped that the two, the divorce agreement and a trade deal with the EU, could be negotiated in parallel.

The EU seeks first to close an agreement, in principle, on securing the rights of over four million EU citizens caught up in Brexit.

"Guaranteeing their rights as European citizens, in the long term, will be our absolute priority from the very start of the negotiations," Barnier said, adding that an agreement on the principles of continuity, reciprocity and non-discrimination should be reached as soon as possible.

The EU also wants to settle the financial bill, even if not the exact amount and to agree on the borders issue - particularly concerning Northern Ireland. This is to be done before discussions can move into a new phase on the future relations, and eventually end with talks on a transitional deal.

No punishment

Barnier, the former French EU commissioner, said the UK needs to settle the accounts before leaving - in order to avoid uncertainty in the EU budget.

"There is no price to pay to leave. But we must settle the accounts," he said, adding that "there is no punishment", when a member leaves the union. He added that the UK will only be asked to pay what it had agreed to before.

Barnier listed the regional and social funds, the development funds and European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker's investment plan, which the UK had made commitments to contribute towards.

Serious consequences

Barnier also warned the UK that failing to reach a divorce settlement would have “serious consequences” for the UK.

London has entertained the idea that no deal would be better than a bad deal forced on them by the rest of the 27 member states.

But Barnier echoed what European Council president Donald Tusk said last week, saying the UK would end up worse off.

“This scenario of ‘no deal’ is not ours. We want a deal. We want to succeed," Barnier said in a speech he gave in English and French.

The French politician highlighted that the reintroduction of customs controls could slow down trade and supply chains and lead to queues at Dover port, could disrupt air traffic and lead to the suspension of movement of nuclear materials to and from the UK.

Barnier's comments were the first major reaction from the EU since London announced on Monday that prime minister Theresa May will trigger the two-year Article 50 divorce procedure on 29 March.

According to the EU's plans, once May's notification arrives, the 27 EU leaders will gather on 29 April to lay down the guidelines for the negotiations.

At a later stage, member states will authorise Barnier to start negotiations based on a detailed plan. Talks are expected to kick off "before the summer", according to officials.

Tusk: No deal on Brexit would hit UK hardest

The European Council president warned the UK against getting cosying up to the idea of having no Brexit deal at the end of the divorce negotiations, as the EU gears up for receiving PM May's notification.

UK parliament clears way for Brexit talks

UK MPs refuse to guarantee the rights of EU citizens in the UK and do not expect a "meaningful vote" at the end of the Brexit talks, as May gets ready to trigger Article 50.

EU gives mandate for Barnier to take on Brexit

In its final preparatory act before Brexit talks begin, the EU has officially given the negotiating mandate to Michel Barnier. The French politician said he would like to start negotiations on the week of 19 June.

Brexit talks restart in sense of urgency

The first full round of Brexit talks on key issues kicks off on Monday, while infighting heats up in the UK government over its strategy.

News in Brief

  1. Covid variant: EU to block travel from southern Africa
  2. France and UK seek EU help on Channel migrants
  3. New Swedish PM who resigned after 7 hours gets second chance
  4. Belgium to decide on Friday on Covid measures
  5. UK rings alarm on new Covid strain in South Africa
  6. Turkish police use tear gas at women's rights march
  7. Poland calls for more Nato troops
  8. Ex-Navalny aide leaves Russia

Post-Brexit talks in last push until Sunday

The probability of no deal has increased as a last-ditch effort by British prime minister Boris Johnson and EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen did not bridge gaps.

Opinion

What a No Deal Brexit is going to look like

Research by the London School of Economics forecasts that a no-deal Brexit could be three times as bad as the pandemic for the UK economy, writes mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, and the president of the Committee of the Regions.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew report reveals bad environmental habits
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersImproving the integration of young refugees
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNATO Secretary General guest at the Session of the Nordic Council
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCan you love whoever you want in care homes?
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNineteen demands by Nordic young people to save biodiversity
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersSustainable public procurement is an effective way to achieve global goals

Latest News

  1. Belgium goes into three-week 'lockdown light'
  2. MEPs list crimes of 'Kremlin proxy' mercenaries
  3. EU to open up 'black box' of political ads
  4. Can the ECB solve climate change and inflation on its own?
  5. EU set to limit vaccine certificate to nine months
  6. Surprise coalition in Romania without former Renew's Ciolos
  7. This 'Black Friday' is a turning point in corporate accountability
  8. West struggling to show strength on Ukraine

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us