Wednesday, 28 June, 2017

Britain-EU Brexit talks to start Monday as planned

Claire Simpson Keeping Arlene Foster in the background was a vote winner for the DUP Sinn Féin hits out at DUP's 'confidence and supply' deal with Tories
Howard Terry | 17 June, 2017, 07:48

Davis appears keen to use the residency rights issue to show that his Whitehall team - said to be in chaos following two high-profile departures last week - is ready to negotiate with the European Union, and has the mandate to do so following the loss of a Conservative majority at last week's election.

Many politicians fear that a complete departure from the EU's single market-the bloc's zone of common product and services regulation-will create significant disruption for the British economy. But it's far from clear what its negotiating position will be when they get underway.

"The subjects we need to deal with are extraordinarily complex from a technical, judicial and financial point of view", Michel Barnier, the EU's chief negotiator, warned earlier this week.

Speaking in the Great Hall at Stormont ahead of an afternoon of talks, he added: "We made clear at the beginning of these talks that James Brokenshire is not an acceptable chair". But it is a negotiation.

But speaking in Strasbourg, Guy Verhofstadt, the former Belgian Prime Minister, who is now responsible coordinating the European Union parliament's Brexit stance, suggested there would be a price to pay should Britain wish to remain in the bloc. "We are prepared for everything".

"We stand at a critical time, with those Brexit negotiations starting only next week", May said. May's party to swallow and would limit London's ability to control immigration from the EU.

The Times newspaper said finance minister Philip Hammond would push May not to leave the customs union - an arrangement that guarantees tariff-free trade within the bloc but prohibits members from striking trade deals with third parties.

The expectation in Brussels is that it will take at least until September at the Conservative Party's conference to iron out what the end-goal for the U.K.is.

Top EU and British figures held "talks about talks" on Brexit Monday (12 June) but failed to nail down a date for the start of negotiations amid the fallout from Britain's chaotic election, officials said.

Talks prior to the election being called had failed to reach an agreement. But with British goals for the future uncertain, this sequence may now suit London.

European Union officials played down the importance of Britain's lack of a clear final plan, saying that talks on other issues can go ahead without deciding yet on a new relationship.

His comments come after Emmanuel Macron, the new French President, said alongside Theresa May at the Elysee Palace that the "door remains open" if the United Kingdom ditches its Brexit plans.

"Even those on the EU side who are ready to be more accommodating are not willing to deviate from some of the red lines", said Janis Emmanouilidis, director of studies at the European Policy Center, another Brussels-based think tank.

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