The EU’s Negotiator Michel Barnier has said that the Prime Minister is being “risky” in seeking to hold our withdrawal negotiations and trade negotiations at the same time. Mr Barnier has set his priority of completing the withdrawal negotiations above securing a trading relationship.
Today the European Parliament approved its negotiating guidelines which will give Mr Barnier the mandate to begin negotiating with the British government. Mr Barnier said of the proposal put forward by Theresa May, “This is a very risky approach. To succeed, we need on the contrary to devote the first phase of negotiations exclusively to reaching an agreement on the principles of the exit.
Many in the UK will see this as an attempt to ensure the UK is worse off outside the European Union than being a member. However Mr Barnier further explained, “we are not proposing this to be tactical or to create difficulties for the UK. On the contrary, it is an essential condition to maximise our chances to reach an agreement within two years.”
The United Kingdom formally triggered Article 50 last week when the British Ambassador to the EU handed President Donald Tusk a letter written by the Prime Minister notifying them of our intention to leave. Despite the UK’s half a century of EU membership, Mr Barnier felt trust needed to be built between the UK and the EU.
“This is also our best chance to build trust before proceeding to the second phase of negotiations. This second phase will be devoted to scoping our future relations and discussing necessary transitory arrangements.” This is set to anger many in the UK who want to see a positive relationship with the European Union through the withdrawal process and in the post-Brexit relationship with Brussels.
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