Brexit: EU ready to start negotiating a transitional period

Ⓒ AFP – JOHN THYS – | Chief Negotiator of the European Union in charge of Brexit Michel Barnier in Brussels, 29 January 2018

The EU wrapped up its position on Monday to negotiate the UK’s post-Brexit transition phase, during which it wants London to continue to participate in the EU budget but renounce all decision-making power in the EU.

These conditions imposed by the 27 countries that will remain in the EU cause a stir on the British side. Especially among the supporters of a clear cut with the EU, some fearing that their country would become a “vassal state” of the Union by leaving it.

Ministers of the 27, meeting in Brussels on Monday, approved in a few minutes their directives so that the Brexit chief negotiator for the EU, Michel Barnier, can begin to discuss the terms of this transition with his British counterpart David Davis.

It should be “a transition + status quo +, but without institutional representation” for the United Kingdom in the Union, stressed on Twitter the assistant of Mr. Barnier, Sabine Weyand, adding that this intermediate period would go from the day of the British departure, end of March 2019, “until 31 December 2020”.

“When the UK leaves the EU, it will not have a say around the table,” said Irish European Affairs Minister Helen McEntee, stressing that it was for the 27 to preserve ” the integrity of the single market and the Customs Union “.

– ‘Some differences’ –

“There is broad agreement on the principle that a period of implementation would be beneficial to both parties, but obviously, on the details, we can expect some differences and this is what we will negotiate,” said a spokeswoman for Theresa May, prior to the adoption of the 27’s guidelines.

Ⓒ AFP – Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS – | British Prime Minister Theresa May in London on January 24, 2018

He reiterated London’s desire to have a transition of “about two years”, a longer period than the one foreseen by the 27s. They prefer to settle for more clarity on the end of the current multiannual budget. the EU, which runs until the end of 2020.

The EU and London already agree on the principle of maintaining UK contributions as planned for the EU budget up to that date.

During this period, the 27 wants London to continue to comply with all EU regulations, but without any decision-making power.

This means that the UK will no longer have a representative in the institutions, no more voting rights and will no longer participate in most meetings. It will still be subject to the jurisdiction of the EU Court of Justice and will contribute to the European budget.

– ‘Closer’

The goal of the transition is to avoid a sudden change in rules for citizens and businesses just after Brexit. It should also help prepare the free trade agreement that will govern relations between the EU and the UK in the future.

Negotiations on this future trade relationship should ideally begin in April, but Europeans criticize British Prime Minister Theresa May for being too late in presenting her specific wishes.

At a summit last December in Brussels, the leaders of the 27 had agreed to open the negotiations on the transition, after having reached a provisional agreement with London on the terms of the withdrawal, which they had made a prerequisite.

They had felt that sufficient progress had been made on the three most difficult issues: the rights of citizens, the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland and the financial regulation of divorce.

From Japan, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian insisted that “the presence of Britain in the EU is over.” “Because I felt that maybe there were spirits who said, maybe … + No, it’s all over!” He exclaimed at a conference.

US President Donald Trump assured him that he would have been “firmer” than British Prime Minister Theresa May in negotiations with Brussels. “I would have said that the European Union is not as good as it is supposed to be, and I would have taken a stronger stand on EU withdrawal,” he said on Sunday. evening.

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