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UK calls for 'flexibility' and 'imagination' as Brexit talks resume

UK calls for 'flexibility' and 'imagination' as Brexit talks resume

3 min. 28.08.2017 From our online archive
The European Union and UK begin the third round of talks about the country's withdrawal from the bloc -- expected in March, 2019 -- on Monday.

The European Union and the United Kingdom begin the third round of talks about the country's withdrawal from the bloc -- expected in March, 2019 -- on Monday.

The EU Commission's chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, has said that it is "essential" to make progress on securing citizens' rights, the so-called divorce bill -- the amount Britain is expected to pay towards EU commitments already made, among other things -- and the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

That will be the only land border between the UK and the EU post-Brexit. In one of a series of position papers Britain said it would not seek a 'hard border,' that would mean no passport controls or immigration checks would be carried out. 

"We want to lock in the points where we agree, unpick the areas where we disagree and make further progress on a range of issues," Brexit secretary David Davis is expected to say, according to a statement. "But in order to do that we'll require flexibility and imagination from both sides."

Britons voted in a referendum on June 23, 2016 to leave the EU. UK Prime Minster Theresa May triggered article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty in March 2017, which set off the two-year negotiation process to complete talks with the bloc about the terms of the withdrawal.

Barnier said on Monday that Britain needs to start "negotiating seriously," AFP reported

"To be honest I'm concerned. Time passes quickly... We must start negotiating seriously," Barnier said as he greeted Davis at the headquarters of the European Commission in Brussels, the news agency reported.

The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) and the Association of German Chambers of Commerce (DIHK) said in a statement that political leaders must "deliver clarity and certainty for trading businesses across Europe."

They cited a DIHK survey that showed a worsening outlook for companies trading with the UK because of expected higher costs related to the free movement of workers in the EU, taxes and increased bureaucratic hurdles. A BCC poll showed 68% of respondents wanted an at least three-year transition period for Brexit.

"Businesses are very concerned that Brexit will have a major negative impact," DIHK Chief Executive Martin Wansleben said in the statement. "The terms of exit are still completely unclear. Many of our members are reporting that they are already shifting investments away from the UK."  

Currently, every EU citizen can live anywhere in the UK for three months, so long as he or she has a valid identity card or passport. Beyond that, a person may have to register within a reasonable time, depending on local regulations.

All are considered equal as workers, regardless of in which country they hold their job.

Unemployed or self-employed EU citizens' right to reside depends on their having enough resources to support themselves so they do not burden the host country's social assistance system. They must also have sickness insurance.

The UK is the third-largest market for German goods exports. Germany is the UK's second-largest goods and services exports destination, the bodies said.

The EU may be softening its position that there can be no discussion about trade with the UK before the divorce bill -- potentially costing tens of billions of euros -- is settled, according to the Daily Telegraph.

The newspaper said that under a French proposal, the UK is being urged to ask for a three-year transition period after Brexit. That would be in return for the country continuing to pay into the EU budget and accepting EU law, the Telegraph said.

In the raft of position papers, the UK has outlined its stance on issues including how the Luxembourg-based European Court of Justice will no longer have "direct" jurisdiction over British laws, data protection and confidentiality of documents.

(Alistair Holloway,, +352 49 93 739)