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No Brexit transition talks until progress on divorce, says Barnier

British Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union (Brexit Minister) David Davis talks during a press conference along side the European Commission member in charge of Brexit negotiations (unseen) before their meeting at the EU headquarters in Brussels on September 25, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / JOHN THYS

The EU will not discuss British Prime Minister Theresa May’s call for a post-Brexit transition deal until there is progress on key divorce issues including money and citizens’ rights, negotiator Michel Barnier said Monday.

His British counterpart David Davis however reiterated the British government’s call for key issues to be discussed in parallel, saying in particular that payment of its EU divorce bill will be linked to a deal on future ties.

The two men spoke as they met in Brussels to start the fourth round of talks over Britain’s departure from the bloc, and the first since May gave a speech on her Brexit plans.

“For me, we cannot discuss a transition period without reaching a preliminary agreement on an orderly withdrawal. That’s the mandate I have, and no other,” Barnier said.

Frenchman Barnier said the EU was “keen and eager to understand better how the UK government will translate the prime minister’s speech into negotiating positions.”

“This is essential and would enable us to advance this week, I hope and make real progress over the coming months,” he added.

“Real progress on the three main issues is essential to move to a discussion on the transition as well as the future, these are separate issues.”

Davis however linked the Brexit bill to a future trade deal.

“We do not want our EU partners to worry they will pay more or receive less over the remainder of the current budget plan as a result of our decision to leave,” he said alongside Barnier.

“The UK will honour commitments we’ve made during the period of our membership.

“But it’s obvious that reaching a conclusion on this issue can only be done in the context of, and in accordance with, our new deep and special partnership with the EU.”

Barnier however insisted that “we will not mix the discussion on the debts and commitments of the past, we will not mix these subjects which involve an orderly withdrawal, with a discussion on future relations.”



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