No EU-UK trade talks until divorce issues settled - EU's Juncker

Jerome Frank
August 31, 2017

"If it goes very slow, as is the case at the moment, it will be very hard to say there is sufficient progress when we are in October", Guy Verhofstadt, the European Parliament's Brexit coordinator, told EU lawmakers in Brussels on Wednesday.

His comments came after Brussels" chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said he was concerned about the lack of clarity and insisted "we must start negotiating seriously'.

"So there's still an enormous amount of issues which remain to be settled".

"Problems regarding Ireland and Northern Ireland, which are very serious problems, in respect of which we've had no definitive response", Mr Juncker said.

"We need to be crystal clear that we will begin no negotiations on the new economic and trade relationship between the UK and the EU before all these questions are resolved. that is the divorce between the EU and the UK", Juncker told the EU envoys who gathered in Brussels for an annual conference recently.

The latest, third round of talks began Monday with Barnier and his British counterpart David Davis exchanging barbs over how the negotiations should proceed.

Mr Barnier said: 'We need United Kingdom papers that are clear in order to have constructive negotiations.

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Both Barnier and Juncker have been steadfast in their insistence that talks on future trade can not begin until the divorce bill has been settled but the Times reports there may be sympathy for Britain among some member states. "We can not mix these issues up".

Meanwhile, Labor's new Brexit stance was branded chaotic by one of the party's Leave-supporting MPs.

The UK's Davis insists the country wants a mutually beneficial trade deal, but there are points on the European Union agenda that London will never accept - despite calls from the Labour Party to remain in the single market at least.

The Government has spent much of the summer publishing position papers on a variety of Brexit issues but has refused to restrict itself to settling the divorce agreement before any consideration of the future relationship.

Downing Street has also revealed that more papers on the country's position and future goals would be published next week.

Britain feels it is in a good position in Brexit negotiations and wants to agree with the European Union to move on to discussions about its future relationship by October, Prime Minister Theresa May's spokeswoman said on Tuesday.

Other reports by Guamnewswatch

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