Brexit talks set to begin in June

Michel Barnier
The EU's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier

Three stages of negotiations revealed in minutes of EU Commission meeting

Formal Brexit talks are on hold until after the UK General Election and will not begin 'before mid-June', it has been revealed.

The European Union's chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, had hoped to begin negotiations at the end of May after officially receiving his mandate to negotiate on behalf of the EU27.

But, “since a general election had been called for 8 June in the United Kingdom, they would not in fact be launched before mid-June,” he told a meeting of the EU Commission on Thursday, May 18.

“He hoped that after the British legislative elections the UK’s internal political climate would be more conducive to reaching agreement,” according to the minutes of the meeting.

Mr Barnier warned, however, that settling Britain’s financial commitments would be “one of the most difficult” of the negotiations.

“Should there be no agreement on this point, he believed that the risk of failing to reach an agreement on an orderly withdrawal of the United Kingdom would become real,” the document noted.

Brussels is also determined to secure the futures of EU nationals in Britain and British nationals in the EU, and find a solution for the UK’s border with Ireland in the first round of negotiations.

Only once these three areas are agreed will the EU27 move onto the second stage of talks, which would include the nature of the relationship between Britain and the EU, and an outline trade agreement.

Mr Barnier told the meeting that he hoped to have agreement on the first part of the three-stage talks by December 2017, the second by Spring 2018, and the final withdrawal agreement by October 2018. This, he said, would allow six months for the deal to be ratified in time for the March 2019 deadline that was set when Theresa May triggered Article 50 earlier this year.

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