‘Congratulations’: EU launches next phase of Brexit but warns of tough

Published 15/12/2017 in Cybersecurity, Technology

‘Congratulations’: EU launches next phase of Brexit but warns of tough
British Prime Minister Theresa May arrives for the EU summit in Brussels, Belgium, December 14, 2017. REUTERS/Eric Vidal

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Union agreed on Friday to move Brexit talks onto trade and a transition pact but some leaders cautioned that the final year of Britain’s divorce negotiations could be fraught with peril.

On the second day of a Brussels summit, EU leaders agreed “sufficient progress” was made after a deal on citizens’ rights, the Irish border and Britain’s outstanding payments, giving negotiators a mandate to move on to the main phase of talks.

“EU leaders agree to move on to the second phase of Brexit talks. Congratulations PM Theresa May,” European Council President Donald Tusk, who chairs EU summits, said on Twitter.

Discussion of a transition period to calm nerves among businesses is due to start in the new year, although talks on a future free trade pact will not begin until after March — a date underlined by “guidelines” that set out how to proceed as Britain seeks to unravel more than 40 years of membership.

May replied via Twitter, thanking Tusk and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker: “Today is an important step on the road to delivering a smooth and orderly Brexit and forging our deep and special future partnership,” May said.

“We will deliver on the will of the British people and get the best Brexit deal for our country – securing the greatest possible access to European markets, boosting free trade with countries across the world, and delivering control over our borders, laws and money,” she added.

However, the future partnership discussion is set to be difficult, leaders including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Juncker and Italy’s Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni warned.

What can possibly go wrong? Nine Brexit bear traps for 2018

  • EU’s Tusk sees ‘exploratory’ talks with UK on post-Brexit trade
  • May says wants best Brexit trade deal while regaining sovereignty
  • German Chancellor Angela Merkel gave her stamp of approval, but cautioned time was running out.

    “We made clear that Theresa May has made an offer that should allow us to say that we have seen sufficient progress,” she told reporters. “Nevertheless, there are still a lot of problems to solve. And time is of the essence.”

    May, weakened after losing her Conservative Party’s majority in a June election, has so far carried her divided government and party with her as she negotiated the first phase of talks on how much Britain should pay to leave the EU, the border with Ireland and the status of EU citizens in Britain.

    But the next, more decisive phase of the negotiations will further test her authority by exposing the deep rifts among her top team of ministers over what Britain should become after Brexit.

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