What can we expect as the Article 50 talks begin? - podcast

Claudine Rigal
Juin 20, 2017

"This is a technically hard issue, but it is one which I am certain is solvable although it will probably take us to the end of the process when we will have decided what our customs and free trade arrangements are".

"My clear view - and I believe the view of the majority of people in Britain - is that we should prioritize protecting jobs, protecting economic growth and protecting prosperity as we enter those negotiations and take them forward", he said last week.

"We believe it is necessary to agree the terms of our future partnership alongside those of our withdrawal from the European Union".

Time and time again expat groups, politicians and think tanks have urged both sides in the talks to get on with discussing citizen rights to alleviate the anxiety of millions of people who have chosen to make their life in another country.

Those issues are the exit bill; the rights of three million European Union nationals living in Britain and the one million Britons on the continent who now are allowed to live, work and claim welfare benefits; and the status of the border between Northern Ireland and Ireland. They also come three months after Prime Minister Theresa May locked Britain into a two-year countdown to Brexit in March 2019.

After nearly a year of waffling, Britain on Monday finally opens negotiations with its European Union counterparts about leaving the bloc, with the final outcome, due in 2019, as important as it now seems unpredictable.

And even when May finally triggered the two-year unraveling process on March 29, she followed it up with an early election she counted on winning big, only to lose her majority in the June 8 poll.

A year after Britons shocked the continent by voting on June 23 to cut loose from their main export market, new debate within Prime Minister Theresa May's cabinet on precisely what kind of trading relationship to pursue has perplexed European Union leaders, who warn time is tight to agree terms before Britain leaves in 2019.

European leaders have repeatedly said that the United Kingdom need not go through with its plans for divorce - although they have been tough about what a split would mean if it happens.

"I would like us to get a good agreement that is in both sides' interests". One key figure calling for more emphasis on the economy is U.K. Treasury chief Philip Hammond.

The issues at stake are daunting.

Negotiations will include topics such as the rights of EU citizens in Britain, British citizens living in the EU, Britain's relationship with the customs union and the single market.

At the very beginning of European Union exit talks, Brexit Secretary David Davis declared that he will seek "a deal that works in the best interests of all citizens".

On the European side, leaders have remained united that the U.K. can not have full access to European markets unless it also allows full access to its own.

As Europe grows more confident in its future after the election victory in France of pro-EU President Emmanuel Macron and the growing assurance from German Chancellor Angela Merkel that she will be re-elected in September, analysts say there may be fewer reasons for Europe to compromise.

A senior German official is stressing that the European Union doesn't want to punish Britain for leaving, but says its departure will not be good for the United Kingdom or the rest of the EU.

Though the basic outlines of a deal could be struck in the allotted time, he said, uncertain British politics could add a challenge. "A deal like no other in history", Davis said in a statement as he headed into the talks.

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