EU Confirm Start Date For Negotiations, What Will Be Discussed?

Michael Thorpe
25th May 2017

The EU’s leading negotiator has confirmed that the EU member states have now agreed on the negotiating terms. A proposed date for the start of the negotiations has also been decided. Eleven days after the general election, the country’s new leader is set to begin the 15-month negotiation process. The EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier confirmed the date in a statement on Monday, confirming that he would meet with the British Brexit secretary on 19th June.

Plans to hold pre-talks talks were cancelled last month in anger after Theresa May’s government vetoed the proposal to shuffle EU budgets to priority areas, such as the migrant crisis facing many European countries. May’s government cited the upcoming snap election as the reason for stalling the pre-talks, suggesting that no further talks should take place until the country had decided on its new leadership. Talks are due to take place in the recently-opened Europa building in Brussels. The £283m transparent building houses a large glass egg, earning it the nickname the Space Egg. The building has held key EU meetings and is expected to be the stage for the Brexit negotiations.

According to initial reports, the negotiating process will be split into four-week blocks, with a different key issue to be negotiated every four weeks. The first week of political preparation would be followed by the exchange of documents by both sides. After this, Barnier and the Brexit secretary would sit down to negotiate the issues and in the final week, Barnier will report the results to the 27 member states. The member states will then have to decide if sufficient progress has been made and if the outcome is satisfactory.

The first phase of negotiations is expected to cover issues such as the rights of EU citizens in the UK and British citizens throughout Europe. The UK’s divorce bill and the border with Ireland are also expected to be key points of negotiation. Early reports also revealed that Barnier anticipates spending between December 2017 to Spring 2018 discussing possible trade deals. The current Brexit secretary, David Davis has already expressed anger at the EU’s refusal to negotiate the trade deals at the same time as the divorce terms. Some have expressed concerns over the short negotiation period, which has been cut from two years to just 15-months. The only way this could be extended would be if all 27 member states agree to an extension.

It won’t be until after the general election that we get a clearer picture of the negotiation process, but it is expected that citizen’s rights will be at the top of the agenda for all countries. However, it is expected that EU member states will want to see a continuation of the existing freedom of movement.