ibusinesslines.com
ibusinesslines.com December 16, 2017


Britain, EU to start historic Brexit talks

19 June 2017, 06:27 | Kelvin Horton

Last year, Cornwall voted it wanted to quit the union despite being a net beneficiary of EU funds in that it got out in grants more than it paid in.

The aftermath of the inconclusive vote has left Britain's prime minister scrambling to try and form a power-sharing agreement with the Democratic Unionist Party in order to form a minority government.

The two chief negotiators, Michel Barnier of the European Union and David Davis from Britain, immediately set off to find common ground in their working relationship, an important touchstone to see how amicable the biggest political divorce in decades will become.

For that reason, Brussels wants as a priority to guarantee rights for 3 million European Union citizens in Britain and be paid tens of billions of euros it says London will owe on its departure.

Only when "sufficient progress" is made on these matters is Barnier willing to turn to the "bold and ambitious" trade deal that May wants, a pivot most doubt is unlikely to happen much before October.

While "Brexiteers" have strongly backed Mrs May's proposed clean break with the single market and customs union, finance minister Philip Hammond and others have this month echoed calls by businesses for less of a "hard Brexit" and retaining closer customs ties.

In addition, they want that deal to include "minimal customs formalities", mutual recognition of standards and regulation, and a "flexible system" for the movement of labour and skills. Some of her ministers want to refashion her strategy toward protecting trade with Britain's biggest market rather than continue to aim for her original goal of winning control of immigration and law-making.

Other important issues include the UK's "divorce bill" - how much the United Kingdom must pay to honour commitments it had previously made.


Brussels is also resisting British demands for immediate talks on a future free trade arrangement.

It is also 82 days after Theresa May sent a letter formally notifying the European Council of Britain's intention to withdraw.

After lunch teams of British and European Union officials will break off into working groups devoted to the most thorny issues in the divorce, reporting back at teatime to Sabine Weyand, a senior commission official who is Mr Barnier's deputy, and Olly Robbins, the permanent secretary of Mr Davis's Department for Exiting the EU.

Meantime, the EU's chief negotiator, Michel Barnier said his aim for Monday would be for Britain to agree to a format and timetable.

Speaking to the BBC's "Andrew Marr show", Mr Hammond said: "No deal would be a very, very bad outcome for Britain, but there is a possible worse outcome and that is a deal that is deliberately structured to suck the lifeblood out of our economy over a period of time".

The new French President is a fervent European who has made clear that he sees Brexit as an opportunity for the remaining 27 states to relaunch a reformed and improved EU - and for France to poach bankers, academics and other talented people from the UK.

The agenda for the meeting was agreed earlier this month following preparatory "talks about talks".

This first meeting will last just a day with a joint news conference expected by both Mr Davis and his opposite number Michel Barnier at the end of the day.



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