Brexit talks to start with focus on UK’s bill, citizen rights, N.Ireland border

EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier warned that the UK's opposition to freedom of movement makes access to the European Arrest Warrant impossible. [European Commission]

The EU will open the historic divorce talks with the United Kingdom by discussing the size of the bill London will have to settle, the rights of EU and UK citizens and the bloc’s new external border in Northern Ireland.

The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michael Barnier and the UK’s Brexit minister, David Davis, will meet in Brussels on Monday (19 June), kicking off negotiations likely to take almost two years. A second round of talks is scheduled for 17 July and the whole process should be completed by April 2019, though it can be extended if all 27 EU countries agree.

“The first phase of the negotiations will tackle three main areas: safeguarding the rights of citizens, financial settlement of the UK’s obligations and the new external borders of the EU,” the Commission said.

British Prime Minister Theresa May has called on the EU to issue a broad reciprocal guarantee of rights for British expatriates living in the EU after Brexit. But EU leaders insist these must be negotiated in detail for them to have any legal value as reassurance for those people affected.

London to open Brexit talks by offering to protect rights of EU citizens in UK

The UK’s Brexit minister, David Davis, will open divorce talks in Brussels next week with an offer to allow the three million European Union citizens living in Britain the same rights that they have now, the Financial Times reported on Wednesday (14 June).

During the complex talks, the two sides will also have to negotiate a new customs and trade regime between the single market and the UK. May has said she wants a new customs union deal with the bloc, an idea EU officials have snubbed so far.

UK imports and exports will suffer from Brexit isolation

The United Kingdom is a net importer of goods, both from the EU and the rest of the world. While post-Brexit Britain will remain an important export market for the EU-27, its isolation in Europe and loss of preferential access to the bloc’s trading partners could have dramatic consequences.

After failing to secure a parliamentary majority in a national election last week, May’s conservatives are in coalition talks with a small, far-right, protestant Northern Irish party, Democratic Unionist Party (DUP).

The Northern Irish border with EU member Ireland remains a headache for Brussels.

The Commission has stated that one of its priorities in Brexit talks was the Good Friday Agreement, which brought an end to violence and terrorism in Northern Ireland in the late 1990s.

It calls on the governments in London and Dublin to be neutral in their dealings over Northern Ireland. But an alliance between May and a pro-Union party like the DUP could undermine the confidence of Northern Ireland’s Catholics in the process and revive tensions in an area bordering the EU.

‘Brexit’ election results in alliance with DUP anti-abortionists

A “Brexit election” that left UK Prime Minister Theresa May without an overall majority has forced her into a precarious alliance with the far-right Democratic Unionist Party, who are deeply opposed to gay rights and abortion.

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