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Brexit: EU gives May two weeks to act on divorce bill and Ireland

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Donald Tusk calls Brexit talks a furious race against time

Post Magyar Lány on Tue 12 Dec - 22:30

Donald Tusk calls Brexit talks a furious race against time

The UK and the EU face a "furious race against time" to finalise Brexit talks before March 2019, the head of the European Council says.

Donald Tusk urged EU leaders to show unity as they try to negotiate what the future relationship will look like and to set up transitional arrangements.

The EU is set to agree this week that enough progress has been made so far to move on from the first phase of talks.

The UK has been told not to "backtrack" on last week's divorce deal.

The comment from EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier came after UK Brexit Secretary David Davis suggested the divorce agreement unveiled by Theresa May amounted to a "statement of intent" rather than a binding agreement.

Mr Davis - the UK's Brexit secretary - said he was quoted out of context.

But European Parliament negotiator Guy Verhofstadt said the "unacceptable remarks" would harm "good faith" in the process.

The UK is set to leave the EU in March 2019, two years after Mrs May served formal notice of Brexit.

Both sides hope to finalise a deal by October 2018 on the future relationship, including trade, so the UK and European Parliaments have time to vote on it before the UK leaves.

In his formal letter on Tuesday inviting leaders to this week's EU summit, Mr Tusk told the 27 member states: "This will be a furious race against time, where again our unity will be key."

'Gentlemen's deal'

On Sunday, Mr Davis said guarantees on the Northern Ireland border - included in a joint EU-UK report published on Friday - were not legally binding unless the two sides reached a final deal.

But he told LBC Radio on Monday they would be honoured whatever happened.

A European Commission spokesman said the first-phase deal on the Northern Ireland border, the divorce bill and citizens' rights did not strictly have the force of law.

"But we see the joint report of Michel Barnier and David Davis as a deal between gentlemen and it is the clear understanding that it is fully backed and endorsed by the UK government."

'Noted in Brussels'

By BBC Brussels reporter Adam Fleming
The Brexit secretary's comments at the weekend about the legality of what's been agreed so far between the UK and the EU have been widely noted in Brussels, and a handful of member states have brought them up with me.

"To say we are annoyed is putting it too strongly, though," said one diplomat. "This is the sort of stuff we expected," said another. "It's never good when someone questions an agreement 24 hours after it was done," a third official suggested.

This forms the backdrop to the discussion taking place among EU ministers about the European Council's draft guidelines for Phase 2 of the Brexit talks.

But it is not clear if it will lead to any changes to the draft text that will be discussed by leaders on Friday morning. The document already states in its first paragraph that progress in phase 2 of the talks is contingent on commitments from phase 1 being kept.

Presentational grey line

Mr Verhofstadt has tabled two amendments for MEPs to debate on Wednesday, one of which says Mr Davis's comments risk undermining "the good faith that has been built during the negotiations".

Another amendment calls on Britain to "fully respect" last week's Brexit deal and ensure it is "fully translated" into a draft Withdrawal Agreement.

On Monday morning, he tweeted:

After @DavidDavisMP’s unacceptable remarks, it’s time the UK government restores trust. These amendements will further toughen up our resolution.

And at a press conference in Brussels, he said the UK must "stick to its commitments" and put them into a draft Withdrawal Agreement "as soon as possible" if there is to be progress in the second phase of talks.

Mr Davis replied with two tweets of his own, promising to work with Mr Verhofstadt to allay his concerns:
Pleasure, as ever, to speak to my friend @guyverhofstadt - we both agreed on the importance of the Joint Report. Let's work together to get it converted into legal text as soon as possible. 1/2

2:49 PM - Dec 12, 2017

I look forward to working closely with the EP in the next phase, including on a top shared priority: ensuring admin procedures for citizens are as streamlined as possible in both the UK and EU. 2/2 @guyverhofstadt

The European Parliament gets a formal vote on the final Brexit deal but it has also been holding debates and issuing resolutions throughout the process to make its voice heard.

Mr Verhofstadt has introduced the amendments alongside the leaders of four other European Parliament political groups.

http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-42322187

Magyar Lány
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Re: Brexit: EU gives May two weeks to act on divorce bill and Ireland

Post Magyar Lány on Wed 13 Dec - 22:16

Brexit bill: Government loses key vote after Tory rebellion

The government has been narrowly defeated in a key vote on its Brexit bill after a rebellion by 11 Tory MPs.

In a blow to Prime Minister Theresa May, MPs voted to give Parliament a legal guarantee of a vote on the final Brexit deal struck with Brussels.

The government had argued this would jeopardise its chances of delivering a smooth departure from the EU.

Despite a last-minute attempt to offer concessions to rebels, an amendment to the bill was backed by 309 to 305.

Ministers said the "minor setback" would not prevent the UK leaving the EU in 2019.

Of the Conservative MPs who voted against the government, eight are former ministers.

One of them, Stephen Hammond, was sacked as Conservative vice chairman in the aftermath of the vote.

"Tonight I put country and constituency before party and voted with my principles to give Parliament a meaningful vote," he tweeted.

The government said it was "disappointed" at losing - its first defeat on Brexit - despite the "strong assurances" it had offered.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said the defeat was "a humiliating loss of authority" for Mrs May on the eve of an EU summit where leaders will discuss Brexit.

What does it mean?
BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg

It's the first time that Theresa May has been defeated on her own business in the Commons. She has to front up in Brussels tomorrow with other EU leaders only hours after an embarrassing loss in Parliament.

Beyond the red faces in government tonight, does it really matter? Ministers tonight are divided on that. Two cabinet ministers have told me while it's disappointing it doesn't really matter in the big picture.

It's certainly true that the Tory party is so divided over how we leave the EU that the Parliamentary process was always going to be very, very choppy.

But another minister told me the defeat is "bad for Brexit" and was openly frustrated and worried about their colleagues' behaviour.

Read the whole article here:

http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-42346192

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Brexit: EU leaders agree to move talks to next stage

Post Magyar Lány on Fri 15 Dec - 21:45

Brexit: EU leaders agree to move talks to next stage

EU leaders have agreed to move Brexit talks on to the second phase but called for "further clarity" from the UK about the future relationship it wants.

The first issue to be discussed, early next year, will be the details of an expected two-year transition period after the UK's exit in March 2019.

Talks on trade and security co-operation are set to follow in March.

Theresa May hailed an "important step" on the road but Germany's Angela Merkel said it would get "even tougher".

Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council, broke the news that the 27 EU leaders were happy to move on to phase two after they met in Brussels.

He congratulated Mrs May on reaching this stage and said the EU would begin internal preparations for the next phase right now as well as "exploratory contacts with the UK to get more clarity on their vision".

While securing a deal in time for the UK's exit in March 2019 was realistic, he suggested that the next phase would be "more challenging and more demanding".

Full article:

http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-42368096


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