Posts Tagged ‘future relationship’

Theresa May Brexit speech in Florence Thursday to be ‘open and generous offer’ to EU

September 21, 2017

BBC News

Boris Johnson and Theresa MayREUTERS photo

Theresa May’s speech on Brexit in Italy on Friday will represent an “open and generous offer” to the rest of the EU, a cabinet minister has told the BBC.

It is thought that might include a guarantee that no EU country would lose out from changes to the EU’s current budget as a result of the UK leaving.

But another minister warned against offering too much on the money, saying “it’s our only leverage”.

Mrs May is briefing her cabinet on Thursday morning about the the speech.

The event in Florence is being seen as an attempt to break the deadlock on the negotiations, with the EU unhappy at the lack of progress on agreeing the UK’s “divorce bill” from Brussels.


By BBC Political Editor Laura Kuenssberg

We are one of the biggest contributors to the EU pot, so leaving dents the planned financial arrangements if we just go and take our cheque book with us.

If that is the promise that is roughly to the tune of £20bn, although it would be surprising if Theresa May named a figure herself – it’s not her style and any actual numbers will be subject to far-off negotiations.

But in terms of the bill, that could just be the start of it. Plugging the hole in the current budget doesn’t deal with what the EU sees as our long-term obligations – whether that’s diplomats’ pensions or our share of money that’s been loaned to other countries.

Read Laura’s full blog

The cabinet meeting comes amid reports of ministerial splits over Brexit.

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson was accused of undermining the PM with a 4,000-word article about Brexit.

He subsequently denied reports he planned to resign if his blueprint was not followed and described the government as “a nest of singing birds”.

The foreign secretary and prime minister were due to travel back from the United Nations in New York together on Wednesday night.

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and International Development Secretary Priti Patel were among those watching the PM's speech
Boris Johnson watched the PM’s address to the UN general assembly in New York on Wednesday. Getty Images

Debate ahead of the speech has focused on the detail of the time-limited transition period after Brexit, how much the UK will pay as it leaves, and whether it will continue contributing to EU budgets in years to come.

So far, the government has said the UK will honour its commitments but that the days of “giving huge sums of money” are over.

Why Florence?

Downing Street has also described as “speculation” a Financial Times report that chief Brexit “sherpa” Olly Robbins, who reports directly to Mrs May, had told Germany she will offer to pay £20bn in the period up to 2020 to cover gaps in the budget left by the UK’s departure.

The fourth round of Brexit negotiations begins on 25 September, with the UK due to leave the EU in March 2019.

The UK is keen to intensify their pace and open discussions on the country’s future relationship with the EU, including trade, as soon as possible.

Theresa May asked about Johnson’s intervention on Brexit

But this cannot happen until the EU deems sufficient progress has been made on the initial subjects being discussed, including the UK’s financial settlement.

The two sides are also trying to reach agreement on the status of UK and EU expats after Brexit, and the impact of Brexit on the Northern Ireland border.

BBC political correspondent Leila Nathoo said Mrs May’s challenge is to make enough of a gesture to Brussels to kickstart negotiations, while reconciling both Remainers and Brexiteers in Cabinet to her position.

On the detail of a proposed transition period, the Brexit bill and any payments to the EU after we leave, the prime minister’s speech will be closely watched for points of compromise, said our correspondent.


EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier ‘concerned’ at lack of progress — ‘time is running out’

August 28, 2017

Reuters and France 24

© Emmanuel Dunand, AFP | British Brexit minister David Davis (R) and the EU’s chief negotiator for Brexit negotiations Michel Barnier arrive at EU Commission headquarters in Brussels on August 28.


Latest update : 2017-08-28

The European Union’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier said on Monday he was concerned at the slow progress of Brexit talks, while his British counterpart David Davis called for “imagination and flexibility” to move on.

British officials arrived in Brussels on Monday hoping to push the EU towards talks about their post-Brexit ties, which the bloc refuses to launch until there is agreement on London’s exit bill and other “divorce” matters.

“To be honest, I am concerned. Time passes quickly,” Barnier said in short comments offered jointly by the two men to the media.

“We must start negotiating seriously … the sooner we remove the ambiguity, the sooner we will be in a position to discuss on the future relationship and a transitional period.”

The two sides hold a third round of Brexit talks from Monday to Thursday. It comes after Britain last week made public its positions on issues ranging from customs rules to data sharing.

The position papers often touch on the future relationship between London and the EU, as London wants to focus discussion on these future ties rather than on just the divorce.

“The UK government has published a large number of papers covering important issues related to our withdrawal and our vision for a deep and special partnership,” Davis said.

“We want to lock in the points where we agree, unpick the areas where we disagree and make further progress on the whole range of issues,” he added.

To do that would require “flexibility and imagination from both sides”.

But the EU wants to settle the major separation issues of ensuring expatriate rights, agreeing a divorce bill and squaring the circle of the future Irish border before jumping into talks about post-Brexit ties with London.

“The EU 27 and the European Parliament are united. They will not accept that separation issues are not addressed properly,” Barnier said. “I am ready to intensify negotiations over the coming weeks in order to advance.”

No breakthrough expected

The EU has already signalled that the slow progress so far has made talks about a new accord with Britain less likely to start in October, as had been originally expected.

After Barnier and Davis sit down on Monday, more technical talks will follow on Tuesday and Wednesday to tackle expatriate rights, the divorce bill and “other separation issues”.

While there is some convergence on safeguarding the rights of EU citizens residing in Britain and Britons living on the continent, more technical work is needed, EU sources say.

The EU and Britain seem far apart on agreeing how much London should pay the bloc on departure to account for previous commitments.

The Irish issue is extremely delicate because of the history of political violence there, as well as the complex economic consequences of Brexit.

Dublin said on Monday much of the future border arrangements between Northern Ireland and Ireland could be solved before Brexit talks enter the next phase.

Neither side expects major breakthroughs this week in talks aimed at unravelling more than 40 years of union. Neither seems ready for major political concessions, as highlighted by the fact that Davis was planning to return to London almost immediately after the meeting with Barnier.

Still, both Britain and the EU stress that time is scarce. The talks should conclude well before the provisional Brexit date of March 2019 to leave time for approval of any deal by Britain, EU states and the bloc’s parliament.

An EU official welcomed the fact Britain had presented its papers, but said it was “clearly worrying that we have major differences of core issues … with very little time to land all this, even if Britain moves.”

Britain’s opposition Labour Party on Sunday offered an alternative to the policy pursued by Prime Minister Theresa May by saying it would stay in the European single market and customs union for a transitional period after Brexit.

The British and German chambers of commerce together urged negotiators on Monday to start talks about future trading relations, and particularly customs arrangements, swiftly.

Barnier said on Monday the EU and Britain had to remain allies in combating terrorism, cyberattacks and information wars.

“The fact remains that the Union of 27 and the United Kingdom will have to join forces to stand up to common threats: the security of our citizens cannot be haggled over,” he wrote in the French daily le Monde.

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.