EU's Brexit negotiator to hold talks with UK govt, will unveil new recommendations

Brussels: The European Union's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier will unveil recommendations for forthcoming talks with Britain, despite increasing rancour over how the split will ultimately unfold.

Barnier's comments come four days after leaders of 27 EU nations met— without British prime minister Theresa May —and unanimously agreed on a tough overall strategy.

They also follow leaks about a disastrous dinner and exchanges involving May and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, which has left the former battling to defend her Brexit strategy.

The row marks a dismal start to the process, although formal negotiations will not begin until after Britain's election on 8 June, in which May is expecting to return to office with a stronger mandate.

The high stakes for the British premier were underlined on Tuesday when, quizzed on the campaign trail about the dinner clash, she said Juncker would soon find out she can be a "bloody difficult woman".

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

The EU 27 will then on 22 May give Barnier, 66, a formal mandate to conduct talks over the next two years with Britain.

Barnier has said he needs to wrap up talks by October 2018 to get any Brexit deal through the European Parliament in time for Britain's scheduled departure from the EU on 29 March 2019.

Britain voted to leave the EU in June 2016 in a closely fought referendum.

And if the first contacts in Britain's divorce from the union it entered four decades ago are anything to go by, the negotiations will be difficult.

Barnier's recommendations, in an early draft seen by AFP, contain a demand for a lifetime guarantee of rights for EU citizens who have lived in Britain for five years.

Under the EU single market, Europeans have the right to live, work and claim benefits in any country in the bloc.

They also echo the EU 27's insistence that talks on a future EU-UK trade deal cannot begin until Britain resolves the issues of "people, money and Ireland".

The EU says London must guarantee the rights of three million citizens living in Britain who are currently able to live, work and claim benefits there.

Updated Date: May 03, 2017 10:28 AM

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