EU prepares for talks with post-Brexit Britain

The FT’s Jim Brunsden reports from Brussels:

The UK election campaign may still be in full swing, but the EU has already moved on to planning for life after Brexit.

EU leaders are set to adopt conclusions next week setting out their stance on future relationship talks with the UK.

The five-paragraph text, seen by the FT, emphasises the need for speed, with the clock ticking down to the end of Britain’s post-Brexit transition period on 31 December 2020.

It calls on the European Commission to present a “draft comprehensive mandate” for a future relationship deal with post-Brexit Britain “immediately” after the UK exits the EU. Governments commit to “swiftly” adopt it, allowing talks with the UK to get underway.

“Negotiations should be organised in a way that makes the best possible use of the limited time available for negotiation and ratification by the end of the transition,” say the draft conclusions.

Under Boris Johnson’s exit deal with the EU, the centrepiece of the future relationship talks will be negotiation of an EU-UK free-trade agreement. But senior EU diplomats have made clear that all future relationship issues will be linked — meaning, for example, that Britain will not be able to secure the trade deal unless it provides enough access to its waters for EU fishermen.

The draft conclusions also stress the importance of unity on the EU side, saying negotiations with Britain “will continue to take place in a coherent manner and in a spirit of unity and transparency with all Member States”.

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National ambassadors will discuss the draft text at a meeting in Brussels this afternoon.

European Council (Art. 50) — Draft conclusions

To view the full document, click here.



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