EU’s Brexit ne­go­tia­tor sets out tough con­di­tions for Lon­don

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - WORLD -

BRUS­SELS — The Euro­pean Union’s chief Brexit ne­go­tia­tor set out tough con­di­tions for the United King­dom to meet dur­ing the first months of talks be­fore both sides can start look­ing at a fu­ture re­la­tion­ship.

Michel Barnier said that Bri­tain needs to make “suf­fi­cient progress” on cit­i­zens’ rights, the bill it has to pay to the EU and on the is­sue of the Ir­ish bor­der be­fore talks can move to a fu­ture trade deal.

After Bri­tish For­eign Sec­re­tary Boris John­son said the EU can go “whis­tle” for Bri­tain to pay any ex­ces­sive bill, Barnier re­torted that “I am not hear­ing any whistling, just the clock ticking” with the dead­line of March 2019 draw­ing ever closer.

The UK and EU ne­go­tia­tors should be able to move from talks about Brexit to ne­go­ti­at­ing fu­ture re­la­tions be­fore the TrapClimb­ing

I think ‘go whis­tle’ is an en­tirely ap­pro­pri­ate ex­pres­sion.” Boris John­son, Bri­tish for­eign sec­re­tary

end of the year, Lon­don’s top Brexit of­fi­cial has said.

Brexit Sec­re­tary David Davis said on Tues­day that Barnier hoped to “rec­om­mend go­ing to the par­al­lel ne­go­ti­a­tions Oc­to­ber-Novem­ber”.

Bri­tain trig­gered a twoyear count­down to its de­par­ture from the bloc in March, and Davis and Barnier met for pre­lim­i­nary talks last month. They are due to meet again next week.

The EU in­sists that ma­jor progress must be made on the UK’s exit terms in­clud­ing a hefty di­vorce bill be­fore ne­go­ti­a­tions can start on the UK’s fu­ture re­la­tion­ship with the EU. Bri­tain wants the two strands to run in par­al­lel.

Davis told the House of Lords Brexit com­mit­tee that Barnier hoped to sig­nal in the fall that suf­fi­cient progress had been made. Once that hap­pens, talks could move on to “free-trade is­sues, cus­toms is­sues, jus­tice and home af­fairs is­sues”, he said.

Davis also struck an op­ti­mistic note on set­tling the sta­tus of 3 mil­lion EU cit­i­zens liv­ing in Bri­tain, and more than 1 mil­lion UK na­tion­als re­sid­ing else­where in the bloc.

The two sides have sparred over the is­sue, with EU law­mak­ers ac­cus­ing Bri­tain of plan­ning to give Euro­peans in Bri­tain “sec­ond-class sta­tus”.

Davis said he wanted the is­sue to be set­tled soon.

But his pos­i­tive tone con­trasted with com­ments ear­lier in the day made by John­son.

Es­ti­mates of the amount Bri­tain must pay to cover pen­sion li­a­bil­i­ties for EU staff and other com­mit­ments have ranged up to $114 bil­lion.

“The sums that I have seen that they pro­pose to de­mand from this coun­try seem to me to be ex­tor­tion­ate. ... I think ‘go whis­tle’ is an en­tirely ap­pro­pri­ate ex­pres­sion,” John­son told law­mak­ers in the House of Com­mons.

Davis, more diplo­mat­i­cally, said Bri­tain’s po­si­tion on the di­vorce bill was “not to pay more than we need to”.

ISSEI KATO / REUTERS

Staff mem­bers demon­strate a vir­tual-re­al­ity pro­gram ti­tled fa­cil­ity in Ja­pan, on Wed­nes­day. at VR Zone Shin­juku in Tokyo, the largest VR en­ter­tain­ment

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