Before another Brexit talks round is about to kick in, the European Commission Chief Negotiator for Article 50 Negotiations with the UK Michel Barnier, briefed the EU-27 preparatory meeting of the European Council.
Barnier has welcomed the UK prime minister Theresa May’s Florence speech, suggesting that as the EU’s negotiator, he would accept the offer and consider the UK’s desire for a “time-limited” transition period. “What is important, is to the Government of the UK to translate May’s speech into clear negotiation points,” said Barnier. “The speech shows a willingness to move forward, as time is of the essence. We need to reach an agreement by autumn 2018 on the conditions of the United Kingdom’s orderly withdrawal from the European Union. The UK will become a third country on 30 March 2019″.
As the EU-27 have reaffirmed their unity during Monday’s General Affairs Council, where the ministers agreed that the situation is at a point where clarity is needed. “We are in a moment where we need clarity,” said Barnier in front of Brussels reporters after the meeting.
Transitional period and the UK’s commitments
“We can agree to talk about transitional period in relation between the EU and the UK only if that could lead to complete fulfillment of UK’s commitments towards EU” said Barnier, underlining that at the moment, it is the EU that has to decide on whether to have a transitional period and its interest, adding that his own mandate does not cover such a period at the moment. “We are talking about prolonging extending EU legislation for some time,” said Barnier.