Theresa May talks Brexit with busi­ness lead­ers from EU, UK

Malta Independent - - BUSINESS | CLASSIFIEDS -

Busi­ness lead­ers from both sides of the English Chan­nel are meet­ing with Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May to urge her to ac­cel­er­ate talks on Britain's exit from the Euro­pean Union as un­cer­tainty about fu­ture trad­ing re­la­tion­ships threat­ens jobs and in­vest­ment.

Euro­pean busi­ness lead­ers are urg­ing Britain to make con­crete pro­pos­als on the so-called di­vorce is­sues so the ne­go­ti­a­tions can move for­ward. The EU has re­fused to dis­cuss trade un­til there is agree­ment on Britain's fi­nan­cial obli­ga­tions, cit­i­zens' rights and the Ir­ish bor­der.

In­dus­try groups from Ger­many, France, Britain and other EU coun­tries have sent rep­re­sen­ta­tives to Lon­don amid con­cern that time is run­ning out to en­sure more than 550 bil­lion pounds ($719 bil­lion) of trade keeps flow­ing smoothly af­ter the U.K. leaves the bloc in March 2019. They want a tran­si­tional pe­riod dur­ing which Britain would re­main in the Euro­pean sin­gle mar­ket and cus­toms union so com­pa­nies could ad­just to the new re­la­tion­ship af­ter Brexit.

"Busi­ness is ex­tremely con­cerned with the slow pace of ne­go­ti­a­tions," Busi­nessEurope, an um­brella or­ga­ni­za­tion of busi­ness lob­bies, said in a re­cent state­ment. "Busi­ness wants to avoid a cliff edge. Our com­pa­nies need cer­tainty and time to pre­pare and ad­just to the post-Brexit sit­u­a­tion."

Dur­ing the meet­ing, May will out­line her hopes for a "bold and deep eco­nomic part­ner­ship" be­tween Britain and the EU af­ter Brexit. But ten­sions within her own gov­ern­ment may make it dif­fi­cult for the prime min­is­ter to de­liver on her vi­sion. Af­ter two min­is­ters re­signed from the Cab­i­net in re­cent weeks, For­eign Min­is­ter Boris John­son and En­vi­ron­ment Sec­re­tary Michael Gove are now un­der fire for their com­ments about a Bri­tish woman im­pris­oned in Iran.

The pound fell a cent against the dol­lar, to below $1.31 in mid­day trad­ing in Lon­donm on con­cern about the gov­ern­ment's weak­ness.

Mean­while, The Euro­pean Par­lia­ment's pres­i­dent, An­to­nio Ta­jani, said Mon­day that Britain needs to pay the EU at least 60 bil­lion eu­ros ($69.9 bil­lion) to cover the com­mit­ments it made as a mem­ber of the bloc. If the EU ac­cepts less than that, Euro­pean tax­pay­ers will have to "make up the dif­fer­ence," Ger­many's Funke news­pa­per group quoted him as say­ing.

"Why should the Ger­mans, Ital­ians, Span­ish or Dutch pay the Bri­tons' bill?" he said.

A se­nior Ger­man of­fi­cial said he's wor­ried about Britain crash­ing out of the EU with­out a deal.

"We should all be pre­pared for the worst case ac­tu­ally hap­pen­ing in March 2019," Deputy Fi­nance Min­is­ter Thomas St­ef­fen said, ac­cord­ing to the dpa news agency dpa. "And then we will see whether any­one in Lon­don or any­where else can pro­duce a dif­fer­ent sce­nario. To­day, I don't see it."

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