Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Brexit: Brussels To Detail Its Negotiating Mandate

The EU's chief negotiator for the Brexit, Michel Barnier, will unveil on Wednesday the detailed guidelines of the European camp, in full controversy on the degree of optimism of the two parties a few weeks from the beginning of the transactions.

After the policy - a European summit on Saturday, where the remaining 27 leaders in the EU have claimed their "unity" - here is the time for technicians. The European Commission will present its "recommendations" in anticipation of the opening of negotiations on the UK withdrawal agreement.

This is an additional and unavoidable step for the European camp to be legally ready to negotiate with London: the presentation of the "mandate" of EU negotiators.

"Now that we have the political framework in which the Commission will negotiate Article 50 (of the Treaty of Lisbon, providing a way out for a Member State wishing to leave the EU) on behalf of the 27, the chief negotiator Michel Barnier (...) will present the legal instrument that will translate this policy framework into a specific tool for negotiations, "spokesman Margaritis Schinas told a press briefing Tuesday.

- A detailed mandate -

Michel Barnier, 66, former European Commissioner, is due to detail his guidelines at a press conference at 11.00 am (0900 GMT), based on the main guiding principles decided on Saturday by the 27.

The Frenchman hopes to complete the negotiations by October 2018 so that the European Parliament can vote the agreement found in time before the scheduled withdrawal of the United Kingdom on 29 March 2019.

The Commission's recommendations, according to a project consulted by AFP, are pushing to ask for a guarantee of their current rights for life for EU citizens living in the UK for five years, about three million people.

They echo the three key dossiers identified by the Member States which must be resolved before any discussion on a future trade agreement: citizens, accounts to be settled and the case of the border between Northern Ireland and the British province; Ireland.

The EU requires London to pay a "bill", estimated between 40 and 60 billion euros, a sum that the British consider not to have to pay.

In the interest of transparency, the Commission will publish these recommendations, which will then have to be adopted by the Member States according to the timetable laid down at a General Affairs Council meeting of 27 European ministers responsible for the dossier on 22 May.

The EU will then be ready to begin discussions with the United Kingdom after the British parliamentary elections of June 8 convened by Prime Minister Theresa May in search of a flawless political majority.

- Atmosphere tense -

This European, sometimes technical, the process takes place in a political atmosphere that has tightened over the weekend.

Theresa May wants the discussions on the trade agreement and the conditions of divorce to run in parallel, unlike the European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker who notes that some in London "underestimate the technical difficulties" that the EU Must overcome.

Was the dinner between Mrs. May and Mr. Juncker last Wednesday in London so "constructive" as both parties have said?

During the weekend, the British leader described an article in the German daily newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) as "gossip of Brussels" giving a pessimistic image of the preparations for the negotiations.

According to the newspaper, Mr. Juncker reportedly gave his negative impressions to German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the end of the dinner. A few hours later, Merkel warned London about persistent "illusions" about the implications of a divorce between Great Britain and the EU.

The British newspaper Sunday Times reported on Mr. Juncker's words that Mrs. May was "in another galaxy".

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