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Financial News: EU's Barnier Unveils Brexit Mandate

EU's Barnier Unveils Brexit Mandate

05/03/2017 - 08:35:00 (RTTNews)

(RTTNews) - Divorce talks between the European Union and the UK will take time and may be painful, European Commission Chief Brexit Negotiator Michel Barnier said on Wednesday, as he unveiled the EU's draft mandate for Article 50 negotiations.

"With our recommendation today, we are on track to make sure that the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union happens in an orderly fashion," Barnier said in Brussels.

"This is in the best interests of everyone. As soon as the UK is ready, we shall start negotiating in a constructive manner."

The directives were presented after leaders of the EU27 countries agreed on April 29 the political guidelines to be adopted for the talks.

The latest mandate complements the guidelines and provides the necessary details to conduct the first phase of the negotiations, the EU said.

The document details the two-phased approach and prioritizes those matters which are necessary to ensure an orderly withdrawal of the UK from the EU.

"Some have created the illusion that Brexit would have no material impact on our lives or that negotiations can be concluded quickly and painlessly," Barnier said.

"This is not the case; we need sound solutions. We need legal precision and this will take time," he said.

The UK must put a great deal of energy and effort into - citizens' right, the financial settlement and the new external borders, over the next weeks and months, the EU official said. That will increase the chances of reaching a deal, he added.

"The clock is ticking," Barnier warned, adding he wanted a cordial Brexit.

"The UK's decision to leave the European Union has now caused ten months of uncertainty...We need to remove that uncertainty. It is high time to start negotiating," Barnier said.

The Brexit talks will be difficult, he said, stressing on the need for the EU to remain "cool-headed and solution-oriented."

The EU has already rejected the UK wish to have talks simultaneously on exit and the future relationship with the union.

In a report on Wednesday, the Financial Times reckoned that the Brexit is set to cost the UK as much as EUR 100 billion, much higher than the EUR 60 billion estimated earlier.

Britain's Brexit Secretary David Davis responded in an interview to the ITV that the government will not pay that much.

Dismissing the idea of a Brexit bill as a punishment for the UK, Barnier said there would be only a settling of accounts.

Safeguarding the status and rights of citizens, both British and others, will be the first priority in Brexit talks, the EU said.

Financial settlement should be agreed before talks can progress in the second phase and solutions must be found to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland, the EU added.

The recommendations will be presented to the European Council and is set to be adopted by the General Affairs Council on May 22.

The first formal meeting between the EU and the UK negotiators is likely to be in June, the EU said, given date of the General Election in the UK.

Barnier said he expects the first phase of talks to conclude around October next year.

The country will cease to be an EU member at midnight on March 29, 2018, unless the European Council decides unanimously to extend the two-year negotiating period.

Cherry-picking of the Single Market will not be permitted and the Union's four freedoms will remain indivisible, the EU reiterated.

The EU has also barred individual member states from holding Brexit talks with the UK.

Leaked reports suggested that a dinner last week between European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and the British Prime Minister Theresa May turned out to be a disaster. According to reports, Juncker was unimpressed by May's approach to Brexit talks.

Both Barnier and Davis, who were present at the dinner, dismissed such reports regarding the dinner, on Wednesday.

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