Tuesday

23rd Jul 2019

EU awaits UK money offer to begin transition work

  • Chief negotiators Michel Barnier (l) and David Davis (r) after the last round of Brexit talks (Photo: European Commission)

EU countries will not begin drafting guidelines for talks on a possible Brexit transition and future relations unless the UK details what it is willing to pay as part of the divorce.

During a meeting of EU ambassadors on Wednesday (8 November) France and Germany argued that drafting documents should only begin after the UK moved first.

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Other member states questioned if working out the texts should be left to the last minute before the EU summit in December, when the UK would like to see EU-27 leaders approve the move onto talks on the next phase and transition.

There was agreement that there should be no automatic move to talking about transition and the future relations with the UK, and that there should be no "cherry-picking" during the transition period.

"There will be no guidelines, if there is no sufficient progress," an EU source said, referring to the threshold the UK needs to meet on the three key negotiating issues.

According to a document prepared for the ambassadors' meeting, the EU-27 will take stock of the progress in Brexit talks on 20 November, and on 29 November it could begin drafting the guidelines.

EU countries for now will start a general discussion on how a transition period and the future relationship might look like.

The EU-27 want the UK to clarify what it is willing to pay from the financial commitments it has made as an EU member.

The UK wanted to see what the future relationship might entail before making an offer on the divorce bill.

A new negotiating round begins in Brussels on Thursday (9 November) with EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier warning in a tweet: "More progress needed on 3 key topics."

Citizens' rights, the border between Northern Ireland and Ireland, and the financial settlement have been at the heart of the first phase of talks.

"We welcome the EU's move to start their own preparatory work on how they see the future relationship working; that will allow us to accelerate talks once they are ready to participate in this conversation," the UK's Brexit secretary David Davis said in Warsaw on Wednesday.

"We are approaching the discussions in a spirit of goodwill and at the December European Council we hope to rely on the support of our friends in Poland in progressing discussions to the next stage," he added.

Even if talks on a transition and the future relationship would be given a green light in December, detailed trade talks would not be included in the second phase of negotiations.

A trade deal between the EU and the UK would require a separate discussion once the withdrawal accord is agreed.

Meanwhile the European Parliament's Brexit team said the UK's proposal on how it wants to register EU citizens after Brexit does not go far enough.

The MEPs argued the process should be cost-free, automatic, enable families to make one declaration, and that UK authorities should bear the burden of proof to challenge such a declaration.

The EP's approval is necessary for the final divorce agreement.

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