EU's Juncker: Next stage of Brexit talks 'as soon as possible'





Brussels - Talks on Britain's future relationship with the European Union should start "as soon as possible," the head of the bloc's executive said, as EU leaders gathered to sign off on preparatory Brexit work.



 
Last week, British Prime Minister Theresa May reached a deal with EU officials on the rights of citizens, financial obligations and the status of the Irish border after Britain leaves the EU in March 2019.
Brussels had demanded clarity on these issues as a condition for moving on to the next stage of talks about post-Brexit ties, notably Britain's future trade relationship with the EU.
The leaders are due on Friday to formally adopt the divorce deal, agreeing that Britain has made "sufficient progress" in laying out the terms Brexit.
"And then we will start negotiations on future relations as soon as possible," said European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, while warning: "The second phase [of talks] is far harder than the first, and the first was very hard."
EU leaders are expected now to launch talks on the initial transition phase after Brexit, while asking London to spell out more clearly in the coming weeks what kind of future relationship it seeks.
"The first real big step is for the United Kingdom to say very clearly what it wants," said Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat.
May, who is not present for Friday's talks, received a round of applause from her 27 EU counterparts on Thursday.
"Some of us, including me, thought she made big effort and this has to be recognized," Juncker said.

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Friday, December 15th 2017
(dpa)
           


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