Thursday

19th Oct 2017

Brexit talks begin amid uncertainty

  • Davis (l) with Barnier in Brussels on Moday (Photo: ec.europa.eu)

The UK will begin historic talks to leave the European Union on Monday (19 June), one year after voters opted to quit the bloc in a referendum.

Britain’s Brexit minister David Davis, the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier, and their teams will start their meeting in Brussels at 11AM and will end the day with a press conference.

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.

  • May to brief EU leaders at a summit this week (Photo: consilium.europa.eu)

The talks begin amid uncertainty on the UK government’s intentions after British voters appeared to reject its so-called hard Brexit manifesto in a snap election on 8 June, when the ruling Conservative Party lost its majority in parliament.

Davis is to say on Monday that Britain wants “both sides to emerge strong and prosperous,” according to a statement by the UK's department for exiting the EU.

At stake is how to untangle over 44 years of a complex relationship that is enshrined in thousands of pages of legal texts.

It will need to be resolved in less than two years, with the UK to exit the EU on March 2019 whether there is a deal or not, unless the 27 other member states decide to extend negotiations.

The talks begin as British prime minister Theresa May holds talks with Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), whose support she now needs to form a minority government.

French president Emmanuel Macron and Germany’s finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble have said the EU door “remains open” if the UK changed its mind on Brexit.

But the British government has ruled this out.

"Despite European leaders’ attempts to leave open the possibility of the UK remaining in the EU, Mr Davis will make it clear that he is determined to achieve a Brexit deal that works for the whole of the UK,” the British statement said.

It said Davis entered the talks "confident that he can get a positive outcome and secure a new deep and special partnership with the EU” as well as a “bold and ambitious deal”.

A year later

One year on from the Brexit referendum, the EU has put together a negotiating team and has published its position on the rights of EU citizens in the UK and UK citizens in the EU.

It has also spoken out on what Britain’s financial settlement with the EU ought to entail.

The process has created rare unity among the 27 remaining member states, whose leaders will be briefed by May at an EU summit at the end of the week.

Meanwhile, the UK’s position on what sort of future relationship it wants with the EU is still unclear.

Officials and diplomats in Brussels have voiced concern on the lack of preparation on the British side.

"It seems they still have not realised what this is all about," a senior EU member state diplomat recently told EUobserver.

May’s letter triggering the so called Article 50 exit procedure is still the most detailed document on the UK’s intention.

It highlights deep divisions between the UK and the EU’s approach to talks, especially on the sequencing of the negotiations, with the UK wanting to sort out the financial settlement in parallel with an agreement on future relations.

May has advocated a hard Brexit, leaving both the single market and the customs union.

There seems to have been no significant change in that approach since the election, but analysts have suggested that part of the reason for May’s failure was opposition to a hard Brexit.

The UK’s finance minister Philip Hammond, seen as an advocate for a softer Brexit with keeping the UK in the customs union, told the BBC on Sunday that Britain’s hard line stays.

"We will leave the customs union when we leave the European Union. That's a statement of legal fact," he said.

Hammond also said that leaving the UK without a deal would be “a very, very bad outcome” despite May previously saying that no deal is better than a bad deal. Hammond added however that a deal designed to punish the UK would be unacceptable.

First Brexit meeting to focus on organisation

Before focusing on citizens' rights, negotiators Barnier and Davis will discuss - in French and English - about the structure of talks in their first official negotiating session in Brussels on Monday.

May clings to power with Northern Irish unionists

May announced the formation of a minority government with Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist party. She might not be in power for too long, and the clock keeps ticking for Brexit negotiations.

EU medicines agency reveals new home preferences

Staff said they preferred to move to Amsterdam, Barcelona, Copenhagen, Milan, or Vienna. More than 70% said they would quit if the agency moved to Athens, Bratislava, Bucharest, Helsinki, Malta, Sofia, Warsaw, or Zagreb.

News in Brief

  1. MEPs and states agree on CO2 exemption for flights
  2. Spanish government to decide Saturday on Catalonia measures
  3. EU court confirms freezing of Yanukovych funds
  4. UK PM appeals to EU citizens
  5. Catalan leader sends independence ultimatum
  6. Madrid eyes early elections as solution to Catalan crisis
  7. Merkel starts coalition talks to form government by December
  8. Iceland confirms long-standing EU opposition, poll shows

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EU2017EENorth Korea Leaves Europe No Choice, Says Estonian Foreign Minister Sven Mikser
  2. Mission of China to the EUZhang Ming Appointed New Ambassador of the Mission of China to the EU
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsEU Should Seek Concrete Commitments From Azerbaijan at Human Rights Dialogue
  4. European Jewish CongressEJC Calls for New Austrian Government to Exclude Extremist Freedom Party
  5. CES - Silicones EuropeIn Healthcare, Silicones Are the Frontrunner. And That's a Good Thing!
  6. EU2017EEEuropean Space Week 2017 in Tallinn from November 3-9. Register Now!
  7. European Entrepreneurs CEA-PMEMobiliseSME Exchange Programme Open Doors for 400 Companies Across Europe
  8. CECEE-Privacy Regulation – Hands off M2M Communication!
  9. ILGA-EuropeHealth4LGBTI: Reducing Health Inequalities Experienced by LGBTI People
  10. EU2017EEEHealth: A Tool for More Equal Health
  11. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Tourism a Key Driver for Job Creation and Enhanced Competitiveness
  12. CECENon-Harmonised Homologation of Mobile Machinery Costs € 90 Million per Year