Posts Tagged ‘divorce terms’

Brexit: EU leaders refuse face-to-face talks with Theresa May in latest rebuff

October 19, 2017

Prime Minister wants ‘a discussion’ with her counterparts to try to break the deadlock – will be listened to in silence

By Rob MerrickJon Stone

The Independent

theresa-may-eu-dinner.jpgTheresa May will make her pitch to EU leaders over coffee PA

EU heads of government will deliver another rebuff to the Prime Minister today by refusing face-to-face discussions to break the deadlock in the Brexit talks.

Theresa May will try to bypass the stalled negotiating process by appealing directly to her counterparts in the other 27 countries, at a summit dinner in Brussels.

She will hope to engage them “in a discussion” to end the impasse, a senior UK government official said, ahead of the EU leaders’ own Brexit talks in Britain’s absence.

But The Independent has learned that the EU will stick to its strict rule that negotiations must be carried out only with Michel Barnier – the European Commission’s chosen representative.

The Prime Minister would be invited to raise her offer on Brexit, but there would be no discussion afterwards, a spokesman for the European Council’s presidency said.

Furthermore, the dinner will be short, after the evacuation of the main European Council building – because of problems in the kitchen – forced it to be moved to an older building.

It is likely to be “cold service” only, one Brussels source said, with Ms May’s speaking slot limited to the coffee at the end.

The set-up raises the prospect of a repeat of what happened at last October’s summit, when the Prime Minister was given just five minutes to speak – with no debate – at 1am on that occasion.

It comes after Brexit preparations were plunged into further chaos after the key legislation was shelved for up to a month, because of Commons revolts.

The EU Withdrawal Bill is unlikely to go back before MPs until mid-November, after an avalanche of amendments – some signed by Tory backbenchers – threatened the Government with defeat.

The Prime Minister will attempt to change the conversation, by promising the 3.2 million EU citizens in Britain a closer involvement in a “streamlined” process to obtain “settled status” to stay after Brexit.

In an open letter, sent directly to 100,000 citizens who have asked to receive updates, Ms May said an agreement with the EU on their future rights was within “touching distance”.

And she announced a new “user group” would be set up with officials, to give EU nationals a direct say over how the processworks, to ease their “anxiety”.

In a message also posted on the Prime Minister’s Facebook page, she wrote: “With flexibility and creativity on both sides, I am confident that we can conclude discussions on citizens’ rights in the coming weeks.”

However, the official confirmed Ms May did not plan any policy change, after criticism that EU citizens will lose some rights – particularly over family reunions – after Brexit.

And, crucially, there is still no unilateral guarantee of future rights should the withdrawal talks collapse and Britain leaves with “no deal”.

In Brussels, Ms May is not expected to budge on the key dispute of money, refusing to go beyond her offer to pay “subs” of around £9bn a year, if a transition period of “about two years” is agreed.

The EU has demanded the UK also set out the “liabilities” it agrees it must pay, prompting the president of the European Parliament to brand Britain’s offer “peanuts”.

On Friday, the heads of government will confirm that “sufficient progress” has not been made on divorce terms, dashing Ms May’s hopes of moving on to talks about a future trade deal.

Leaked versions of the draft council motion are highly unlikely to be changed, after they were toughened up against Britain’s interests by France and Germany.

The motion does allow for preparatory work on the next phase of talks to begin behind closed doors in Brussels, potentially allowing trade talks to begin in January, if the “sufficient progress” test is passed in December.

Despite that, the Government official set a high bar for a “successful” summit, saying Britain was seeking a clear commitment to “swift progress” on reaching an agreement.

By the time EU leaders deliver their “not yet” verdict, Ms May will be back in London. She was said to have an “incredibly busy diary”.

Before she leaves, the summit will also discuss the migration crisis in the Mediterranean and defence, with Britain pledging to “always stand alongside the EU”.


LONDON — With less than 18 months to go before Britain is scheduled to leave the European Union, and with British businesses growing increasingly concerned about the future, this was the moment Prime Minister Theresa May hoped for a breakthrough in the paralyzed negotiations on the process known as Brexit.

Instead, she is fighting a tense battle to stop the talks from collapsing.

After phone calls to Berlin and Paris, and the first of two visits to Brussels in three days, the most Mrs. May accomplished on Tuesday was a promise to keep talking. However, this dialogue does not yet include the subjects Mrs. May wants to discuss: a transition deal to prevent an economically damaging “cliff edge” Brexit and future trade relations.

This week, she is to make her pitch to European Union leaders at a summit meeting in Brussels, but the main discussion of Britain’s departure from the bloc will happen after Mrs. May has left the room.

Both at home and abroad, Britain’s prime minister is hamstrung by her political fragility. She is constantly forced to mediate between warring factions in her cabinet, some of whom want a quick, clean break with the bloc, while others fret about protecting the economy. She must also fend off doubts on the Continent about her ability to deliver a deal, even if one is agreed to.

“Britain is not seen as a credible negotiating partner,” said Charles Grant, director of the Center for European Reform, a London-based research institute. “Continental Europeans read Britain’s newspapers and watch its TV news, and it seems very confused. They don’t know who is in charge, and who speaks for the government.”

Jens Geier, who leads Social Democratic lawmakers from Germany in the European Parliament, has a similar perspective. “Looking at the never-ending internal divisions within the Conservative Party, we in Brussels are wondering how much leeway Theresa May has at all,” he said, “and if she is actually able to deliver, or whether she will be undermined by other members of her cabinet.”

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A Look at What Is Ahead Now That Brexit Talks Have Started

June 19, 2017

BRUSSELS — The talks on Britain’s exit from the European Union finally started Monday when EU negotiator Michel Barnier said “Welcome David” to his counterpart, David Davis, and led him toward a huge oval table at the European Commission headquarters.

As the negotiations kick off, here’s a look at some of the major issues the sides face.



They will first have to unravel the British from the EU, which will be challenging to say the least. That will involve everything from deciding what waters each side can fish in to how nuclear agreements should be renegotiated. Only when there is “sufficient progress” does the EU want to look at creating a new relationship with Britain on things like trade and migration. Britain hopes the two themes — divorce terms and future relationship — can be discussed in parallel.



While Britain has struggled to agree on and present a coherent list of demands, the 27 EU nations have had one message all along — in the words of Barnier on Monday: “We must first tackle the uncertainties caused by Brexit.” It means clarifying the fate of EU citizens in Britain and vice versa, how to manage the border between Ireland and the U.K., and how much Britain will pay.



The EU says Britain can’t leave without settling its bill, paying up for all its commitments that are still ongoing, including projects that might reach into the next decade, as well as the U.K.’s share of EU staff pensions. EU officials have put the figure at around 50 billion euros ($63 billion) while other estimates by think tanks and in the media go as high as twice that amount. As in any divorce, count on both sides to be picky in splitting the goods and dues.



The EU says it will not compromise on its core “four freedoms”: free movement of goods, capital, services and workers. Britain insists that it must regain the right to control immigration and end free movement from other EU countries into Britain. May says Britain will leave the EU’s single market in goods and services and its tariff-free customs union, but nonetheless, somehow, wants “frictionless” free trade.



Even though May triggered the two-year process on March 29, negotiators will have to get a full agreement much faster than March 2019. EU nations and the European Parliament will have to approve any future deal and that can take months. EU officials have therefore put the realistic deadline at October — and at the latest November — of 2018. If no deal is struck by then, the sides may have to create a transitional deal, possibly prolonging some of the current relationship.

If Britain crashes out of the EU without a deal, that would create huge uncertainties for citizens and businesses as well as issues like global security. How bad that would be in reality is anyone’s guess.