Sunday

25th Sep 2022

EU wants Brexit talks to start the day after UK vote

  • Tusk said a trade deal with the UK needs to create a level playing field. (Photo: European Parliament)

The EU's chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, said on Wednesday (17 May) that negotiations between the EU and the UK should start "as soon as possible, the day after the [UK] elections," which will be held on 8 June.

"We want to conclude a deal with the UK, not against the UK," Barnier told the European Parliament in Strasbourg, adding that there is not much time to conclude a good deal.

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

"We have to create the foundations of ongoing trust, that we need to build the future relationship with the UK," he said, outlining the need for an orderly withdrawal agreement.

"We are going to have to unravel 44 years of integration, […] no one should underestimate any of the consequences, we need to tell the truth to the citizens,” the negotiator stressed.

Also speaking in Strasbourg, European Council president Donald Tusk said EU countries will update the Brexit guidelines once negotiations move beyond the divorce deal with the UK.

"We will make our guidelines more precise when the time comes, namely when sufficient progress in the first phase is achieved," Tusk told MEPs.

The guidelines adopted by the EU-27 last month are the key points the bloc wants to settle with the UK before moving on to discuss the future relations.

EU countries said that "sufficient progress" needs to be achieved on guaranteeing citizens' rights, settling the UK's financial obligations and ensuring that no hard border is established between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

The governments of the 27 member states will decide when to move from divorce negotiations onto trade talks.

Based on the guidelines, EU ministers will adopt the more detailed "negotiating principles" on the key issues next Monday, completing the bloc's Brexit preparations.

Tusk warned on Wednesday that the UK's trade agreement with the EU cannot provide access to the single market.

"It is clear that a free trade agreement between the EU and the UK, which is what the UK has chosen, even if it is ambitious and wide-ranging, cannot mean participation in the single market or its parts," he said.

The European Council chief also emphasised that any future trade agreement must have safeguards.

"The UK must be aware that any free trade agreement will have to ensure a level playing field, and encompass safeguards against unfair competitive advantages through, inter alia, tax, social, environmental and regulatory measures and practices," he warned.

Brexit campaigner and former leader of the UK Independence Party (Ukip), Nigel Farage, attempted to hit back by criticising the EU for allegedly leaking information from the dinner meeting between UK prime minister Theresa May and European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker.

Juncker reportedly said that May was delusional and lived in a "different galaxy".

"Your attempts to bully the Brits are not working," Farage said, adding that the UK should walk away from the EU before the end of the year.

MEPs also praised what they see as the defeat of populist forces across Europe in elections, such as in the Netherlands and France, since the Brexit vote.

Others warned not to be complacent after the defeat of French far-right leader Marine Le Pen or Dutch anti-immigrant, anti-EU politician Geert Wilders.

"People in Europe have been shocked by the UK's decision to leave the EU. For good reason people are very critical of the EU, but they don’t want to do what the UK did, [they] don’t want to leave the EU," liberal leader Guy Verhofstadt said, urging reform.

Brexit-affected citizens want special deal on rights

Facing two years of uncertainty while Brexit negotiations are underway, EU and UK citizens caught up in the political battle want a separate agreement to secure their rights and future.

EU boasts unity on Brexit talks

EU leaders adopted the bloc's guidelines for the UK exit negotiations that will start in June, amid concerns that France could elect a president that would try to take it out of the EU.

May promises hard Brexit in Tory manifesto

In her party's platform ahead of the 8 June elections, the British prime minister has asked voters to let her negotiate Brexit without guaranteeing a final deal.

Opinion

How to apply the Nuremberg model for Russian war crimes

A Special Tribunal on Russian war crimes in Ukraine must be convened, because no permanent or existing international judicial institution is endowed with jurisdiction over Russian high-ranking officials, writes the head of the Ukraine delegation to the Council of Europe.

Opinion

Losing on the Ukrainian battlefield will not unseat Putin

Notwithstanding the remarkable Ukrainian advances, a Russian defeat would not necessarily translate into regime change in Moscow. It is likely Putin will try to spin his military setbacks as evidence of the existential threat facing Russia.

News in Brief

  1. More Russians now crossing Finnish land border
  2. Report: EU to propose €584bn energy grid upgrade plan
  3. Morocco snubs Left MEPs probing asylum-seeker deaths
  4. EU urges calm after Putin's nuclear threat
  5. Council of Europe rejects Ukraine 'at gunpoint' referendums
  6. Lithuania raises army alert level after Russia's military call-up
  7. Finland 'closely monitoring' new Russian mobilisation
  8. Flights out of Moscow sell out after Putin mobilisation order

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDA - Soft Drinks EuropeCall for EU action – SMEs in the beverage industry call for fairer access to recycled material
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic prime ministers: “We will deepen co-operation on defence”
  3. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Canadian ministers join forces to combat harmful content online
  5. European Centre for Press and Media FreedomEuropean Anti-SLAPP Conference 2022
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers write to EU about new food labelling

Latest News

  1. Ireland joins EU hawks on Russia, as outrage spreads
  2. Editor's weekly digest: Plea for support edition
  3. Investors in renewables face uncertainty due to EU profits cap
  4. How to apply the Nuremberg model for Russian war crimes
  5. 'No big fish left' for further EU sanctions on Russians
  6. Meloni's likely win will not necessarily strengthen Orbán
  7. France latest EU member to step up government spending in 2023
  8. Big Tech now edges out Big Energy in EU lobbying

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us