Min­is­ter: UK post-Brexit deal with EU may take more than 10 years

New Straits Times - - Business World -

The United King­dom’s post-Brexit trade deal with the Euro­pean Union (EU) could take more than a decade to con­clude, said Dan­ish For­eign Min­is­ter An­ders Sa­muelsen.

“We will find a so­lu­tion,” said Sa­muelsen. “The ques­tion is, can we do it in two years or will we take 15 years? We don’t know.”

The UK wants dis­cus­sions over its trad­ing ar­range­ment to take place dur­ing the two-year pe­riod al­lot­ted for with­drawal talks. But many EU of­fi­cials, in­clud­ing chief Brexit ne­go­tia­tor Michel Barnier, re­jected the idea, say­ing the bloc would only talk about the fu­ture once other el­e­ments, such as Bri­tain’s exit bill and the sta­tus of EU na­tion­als in the UK, were set­tled.

Re­gard­less of whether Bri­tain has se­cured a new trade deal, it will leave the EU about two years af­ter the start of ne­go­ti­a­tions. Ex­it­ing with­out a fu­ture ar­range­ment is some­thing that the UK Brexit Sec­re­tary David Davis had said was an “un­likely sce­nario” but one that Bri­tain must be pre­pared for. Asked about Sa­muelsen’s com­ments at an EU sum­mit here on Thurs­day, the UK Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May said she was still work­ing to a two-year dead­line — although she hinted that she wasn’t nec­es­sar­ily talk­ing about the trade deal be­ing fully con­cluded in that time, only its “frame­work”.

Ar­ti­cle 50 of the Lis­bon Treaty, which sets out the EU exit process, states “the frame­work for the fu­ture re­la­tion­ship ac­tu­ally should take the two years”, she said.

Sa­muelsen, who met with Davis last week, said the or­der of talks was one of the most press­ing pri­or­i­ties once May trig­gered Ar­ti­cle 50, which she had vowed to do be­fore the end of the month.

“That of course was part of our dis­cus­sion; we know that the Bri­tish want to wait” to set­tle ev­ery­thing as one over­ar­ch­ing agree­ment at the end,” said Sa­muelsen. “Ev­ery­body is, in fact, ready. We’re just wait­ing now and then we have to de­cide what ques­tions will be put on the ta­ble first.”

An­ders Sa­muelsen

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