Sunday

25th Feb 2018

'Serene' EU warns UK against Brexit 'illusions'

  • "We have a clear line, we are united and we are ready," says EU main negotiator Michel Barnier. (Photo: Council of the EU)

EU ministers have put the final touch to the bloc's Brexit negotiating guidelines before an EU leaders summit on Saturday (30 April), while Germany has warned the UK not to have "illusions" about the upcoming talks' outcome.

"Countries with a third country status, and that’s what Great Britain will be, cannot and will not have the same or even more rights as a member of the European Union," chancellor Angela Merkel told German MPs on Thursday.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

"You may think that all this is self-evident," she said. "But I have to put this so clearly because I get the impression that some in Great Britain still have illusions about this, and that is a waste of time.”

Merkel called on the UK government to quickly "find constructive solutions", so that exit negotiations can be topped with talks on the future relationship between the EU and the UK.



She was speaking ahead of a summit in Brussels on Saturday, where the leaders of the 27 remaining countries will adopt guidelines for the talks prepared by member states' diplomats and EU officials.

The document was endorsed on Thursday by the 27 Europe ministers in Luxembourg.

The Maltese deputy prime minister, who was chaired the meeting, said it was an "unprecedented signal of trust, unity and consensus of the 27".

"This is a very good start for a very complex negotiation ahead of us," he said.

He said that all governments agreed on the "core principles" of the EU's position: "the integrity of single market, the balance of rights and obligation, no sectorial negotiation, a single package and single channel of communication" - a reference to the EU lead negotiator Michel Barnier.

Conclusion delayed

The text also details the three priorities already expressed by EU leaders: the defense of EU citizens' rights in the UK and of Britons in the EU, the UK's "bill" to pay, and the necessity to avoid a "hard border" between Ireland and Northern Ireland.

"The guidelines are a balanced position, which takes into account different issues," Portugal's Europe minister Margarida Marques told EUobserver.

Barnier briefed ministers about his meeting, together with European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker, with UK prime minister Theresa May on Wednesday evening in London.

 Both the UK government and the European Commission said that the working dinner was "constructive".

While May said again that she wanted a "deep and special partnership" with the EU after Brexit, Juncker and Barnier told her than it was "essential to come to a swift agreement on an orderly withdrawal", according to the commission's spokesman.

They also noted than "it doesn't seem realistic that an agreement can be concluded before September-October 2018" as previously expected.

After May called a snap election for 8 June, talks will start later than expected.

The guidelines were first sent to EU leaders by European Council president Donald Tusk on 30 March, two days after May sent a letter to notify UK's exit.

'Consensual' talks

No major change were introduced in several meetings of the leaders' EU advisers and EU ambassadors.

"The starting point was very good and consensual," Portugal's Marques said about the first draft. "The debates were only to clarify things that were unclear".

She said that despite May's notification and meeting with Juncker and Barnier, the EU "doesn't completely know what the UK wants".

"May's letter raised questions but there are clarifications to be made," she said, especially on citizens' rights and the financial aspect of Brexit.

Marques insisted that the EU was "serene" in approaching negotiations, because it has to "get used" to Brexit and to "minimise the loss".

"We have a clear line, we are united and we are ready," Barnier said in Luxembourg.

EU guidelines set out two-phase Brexit talks

According to the draft negotiating guidelines, the EU-27 would open negotiations on future EU-UK relations when "sufficient progress" has been made on citizens' rights, the British financial bill and the status of the border in Ireland.

Be fair in Brexit talks, EU tells UK

European Council chief Tusk sent draft guidelines to member states. He said the EU wants "fairness" and then warned against using security cooperation as bargaining chip.

Column / Brexit Briefing

May’s election juggernaut

The prime minister's Tories almost need not bother campaigning for the June election. There is no opposition worthy of the name.

Barnier warns UK Brexit transition period 'not a given'

After one of the tensest week so far in Brexit talks, 'substantial' disagreements remain between the UK and the EU over transition, with Michel Barnier insisting London needs to decide on the future relationship and Ireland for Brexit to happen.

News in Brief

  1. EU calls for immediate ceasefire in Syria
  2. UK's post-Brexit vision is 'pure illusion', Tusk says
  3. EU leaders express solidarity with Cyprus in Turkey drill row
  4. EU to double funding for Sahel forces
  5. EU parliament president: 'The immigration problem is Africa'
  6. May to unveil EU departure strategy next week
  7. Pregnant workers may be dismissed, EU court rules
  8. Romanian minister demands anti-corruption prosecutor fired

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. ILGA EuropeAnkara Ban on LGBTI Events Continues as Turkish Courts Reject NGO Appeals
  2. Aid & Trade LondonJoin Thousands of Stakeholders of the Global Aid Industry at Aid & Trade London
  3. Macedonian Human Rights Movement Int.European Free Alliance Joins MHRMI to End the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  4. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Tourism Year to Promote Business and Mutual Ties
  5. European Jewish CongressAt “An End to Antisemitism!” Conference, Dr. Kantor Calls for Ambitious Solutions
  6. UNESDAA Year Ago UNESDA Members Pledged to Reduce Added Sugars in Soft Drinks by 10%
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsUzbekistan: Investigate Torture of Journalist
  8. CESICESI@Noon on ‘Digitalisation & Future of Work: Social Protection For All?’ - March 7
  9. UNICEFExecutive Director's Committment to Tackling Sexual Exploitation and Abuse of Children
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region 2018: Facts, Figures and Rankings of the 74 Regions
  11. Mission of China to the EUDigital Economy Shaping China's Future, Over 30% of GDP
  12. Macedonian Human Rights Movement Int.Suing the Governments of Macedonia and Greece for Changing Macedonia's Name

Latest News

  1. EU agrees budget to focus on defence, security and migration
  2. EU leaders nix transnational lists, cool on 'Spitzenkandidat'
  3. Regions chief: calls for smaller EU budget are 'impossible'
  4. Election fever picks up This WEEK
  5. EU-Morocco fishing deal casts doubt on EU future foreign policy
  6. EU leaders put 'Spitzenkandidat' on summit menu
  7. European far-right political party risks collapse
  8. The key budget issues on EU leaders' table

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Swedish EnterprisesHarnessing Globalization- at What Cost? Keynote Speaker Commissioner Malmström
  2. European Friends of ArmeniaSave The Date 28/02: “Nagorno-Karabakh & the EU: 1988-2018”
  3. European Heart NetworkSmart CAP is Triple Win for Economy, Environment and Health
  4. European Free AlllianceEFA Joined the Protest in Aiacciu to Solicit a Dialogue After the Elections
  5. EPSUDrinking Water Directive Step Forward but Human Right to Water Not Recognized
  6. European Gaming & Betting AssociationGambling Operators File Data Protection Complaint Against Payment Block in Norway
  7. European Jewish CongressEJC Expresses Deep Concern Over Proposed Holocaust Law in Poland
  8. CECEConstruction Industry Gets Together to Discuss the Digital Revolution @ the EU Industry Days
  9. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Relations in the New Era
  10. European Free AlllianceEnd Discrimination of European Minorities - Sign the Minority Safepack Initiative
  11. Centre Maurits Coppieters“Diversity Shouldn’t Be Only a Slogan” Lorant Vincze (Fuen) Warns European Commission
  12. Dialogue PlatformWhat Can Christians Learn from a Global Islamic Movement?