The leaders of the EU must approve a new phase of negotiations of the Brexit

Ⓒ AFP – Ludovic Marin – | The German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, in Brussels this December 15, upon her arrival at the summit where it is expected that the European leaders will approve the new phase of negotiations of the Brexit

The leaders of the European Union must approve this Friday at a summit in Brussels the start of a new phase of negotiations of the Brexit that will determine the future relations after the divorce, a second stage that is announced “difficult”.

“The second phase is much more difficult than the first,” which concluded a week ago with an agreement on the terms of the divorce between the United Kingdom and the European Union, said the head of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, upon his arrival. on the second day of this meeting.

At a working dinner on Thursday, the British Prime Minister, Theresa May, said she wants to build a “deep and special relationship” with the Europeans after the departure of their country from the EU bloc, scheduled for March 29, 2019.

His speech was applauded by his European peers, something unusual. “Some of us, including myself, think he has made great efforts, that they should be recognized,” said Juncker, who said his confidence in May is “intact.”

To launch this new phase of negotiations, the EU first demanded “sufficient” progress in the terms of the separation: border on the island of Ireland, rights of expatriate citizens and financial liquidation, a finding that will be confirmed this Friday.

Therefore, a weakened May, who lost a key vote on Brexit in the British parliament on Wednesday, urged on the eve to start “as soon as possible”, in the framework of the second phase, discussions on the future commercial relationship between the United Kingdom and the United Kingdom. EU.

– Incognito about future commercial agreement –

Everything indicates that Theresa May will obtain a rapid opening of the commercial negotiations that she insistently demands. But the EU wants to leave those discussions for March and focus first, since January, on a transition period of two years after the Brexit.

The question is what form the future commercial relationship will have. The EU negotiator, Michel Barnier, said last week that, given the “red lines” of the United Kingdom, the model for the time being would be the free trade agreement in force with Canada (CETA).

“The first big step is for the UK to say very clearly what it wants” in the future relationship, said Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, who said that if this happens “in the coming weeks”, the EU could have a “very clear for March “.

Meanwhile, the negotiators of the EU and the United Kingdom must also close the fringes of the priorities of the divorce in negotiation, especially as regards the situation of the border on the island of Ireland.

“There is still a problem to be solved,” Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern said on Friday. “We are told that there can not be a border between Ireland and the [British] Northern Ireland”, nor between the latter “and Great Britain”, but that “between the United Kingdom and Europe one is needed”.

The leaders of the 27 countries also want to express their firmness on Friday after the statements of the British negotiator for Brexit, Minister David Davis, who last week questioned the “binding” nature of the preliminary agreement on the terms of the divorce.

The negotiations “of the second phase can only advance if the commitments made in the first phase are fully respected and translated into legal terms as soon as possible,” says the draft conclusions consulted by the AFP.

– Euro zone in the menu –

Before focusing on the Brexit, European leaders started the day with a working breakfast dedicated to the reform of the euro zone, delayed due to the political crisis that is shaking Germany.

The menu of discussions includes proposals such as the appointment of a European Finance Minister, the completion of the Banking Union and the creation of a monetary fund to help the EU countries in crisis.

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