World Britain and E.U. reach divorce deal to move on to new phase in Brexit talks

13:20  08 december  2017
13:20  08 december  2017 Source:   msn.com

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The announcement means Britain and the E . U . will probably start trade talks next year. Friday's agreement appears likely to unlock the next phase of the Brexit negotiation, focused on trade between the European Union and an unfettered Britain after it exits in March 2019.

BRUSSELS - Britain and the European Union on Friday reached a deal on the terms of their divorce , leaders said, as Prime Minister Theresa May overcame bitter divisions in her own nation to open the door to talks about her country’s future relationship with the bloc.

Theresa May, Jean-Claude Juncker are posing for a picture: British Prime Minister Theresa May and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker discuss the agreement in Brussels on Friday. © Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images British Prime Minister Theresa May and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker discuss the agreement in Brussels on Friday.

The bargain came as May compromised on the biggest challenges facing Britain during its split. A disagreement over borders between Northern Ireland and Ireland nearly derailed the deal this week. British factions have also tangled over the amount of money they will have to pay as they leave the European Union as well as who will guarantee the rights of E.U. citizens after the divorce.

On those issues and a host of others, Britain has been forced to capitulate to the European Union after saying earlier this year that it held the upper hand in the negotiations. Instead, British negotiators have found a largely united European Union that sees little need to give in to London's demands.

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Britain and the European Union will begin to tangle with the finer details of the divorce settlement and the structure, at least, of the future relationship Simon Fraser, a former senior British diplomat who runs a consulting company that focuses on Brexit , said that “ Britain wants to move quickly to phase

Britain and EU reach deal to move Brexit talks forward 4mth. Britain , EU reach 11th-hour deal to keep talking about Brexit 4mth. Despite the appearance of good cheer on both sides, significant Deal paves way for second phase of Brexit negotiations, covering trade talks and transition period.

"It hasn't been easy for either side," May said in an early-morning news conference in Brussels following all-night talks. She called the deal "a hard-won agreement in all our interests."

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European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said he planned to recommend that European leaders approve unlocking the next phase of talks when they meet at a summit next week. That would start negotiations about Britain's post-E.U. trade relationship with its neighbors. E.U. leaders are expected to follow the recommendation.

"Sufficient progress has now been made on the strict terms of the divorce," Juncker said. "This was a difficult negotiation for the European Union as well as for the United Kingdom."

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The UK has bowed to EU demands on the Brexit divorce bill in a move that could result in the UK paying £50bn to Brussels, in an attempt EU leaders will make the final decision at a European council meeting on 14 and 15 December, but Barnier’s recommendation to move on to the second phase of

Joint proposal from British and EU negotiators agreed on Friday morning allows talks to move on from divorce phase to UK’s future outside the bloc.

Despite the appearance of good cheer on both sides, significant tensions appeared to remain embedded in the agreement over the divorce deal, which will not be finalized until the very end of the full Brexit negotiation. British factions have squabbled about how to preserve the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, which depends on a borderless passage between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, as Britain seeks new trade independence that would typically require a border.

Friday's deal appears to kick the can down the road on the topic, with Britain agreeing to maintain "full alignment" with E.U. customs and trade regulations in the absence of other solutions to preserve a borderless island of Ireland. May has had to thread a needle between the tiny Northern Ireland Democratic Unionist Party, which supports her weak government in Parliament and wants to ensure a seamless relationship with the rest of the United Kingdom, and hard line Brexit advocates who want maximum independence from the European Union.

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Their acceptance of a “ divorce deal ” opens the way for discussions on a transitional period and the nature of trade relations with Britain . EU leaders agree to move on to the second phase of # Brexit talks .

[ Britain and E . U . reach divorce deal to move on to new phase in Brexit talks ]. "The joint report is a binding document, not an exercise in sleight of hand to enable us to move on to the second phase ," European Parliament President Antonio Tajani told lawmakers Thursday.

"The Good Friday Agreement in all of its parts is protected," said Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, who pushed in recent weeks for the open border.

The two sides also compromised on how the rights of European citizens will be guaranteed in post-Brexit Britain. The European Union has pushed for an oversight role for the European Court of Justice, a judicial body in Luxembourg that anti-E.U. advocates in Britain have long loathed as a symbol of lost sovereignty. The agreement said the court would keep watch over citizens' rights for eight years.

And Britain would agree to keep paying its budget commitments to the European Union for years to come, a proposal that avoids paying a single lump sum that could be politically unpopular, but would saddle London with E.U. budget obligations for decades. Estimates of the total bill range from $53 billion to $65 billion, more than double what May originally offered after triggering departure talks in March.

At every step of the negotiation, May has had to contend with roilingdomestic politics that have pulled the British leader in conflicting directions. Her position was further weakened after she lost her parliamentary majority in June, making her more vulnerable both to Brexit hard-liners who want as final a rupture as possible and to doves advocating a more robust relationship with Europe.

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Prime Minister Theresa May told MPs "real and tangible progress" had been made in Brexit talks . European Commission spokeswoman Margaritis Schinas said "the ball is entirely in the UK court" to reach agreement on Britain 's " divorce deal ", without which the EU has said it will not move on to

A deal has been agreed between the UK and the European Union, allowing Brexit negotiations to move on to the next stage. Negotiations had stalled over citizens' rights after Brexit . Talks now enter the second phase , focusing on trade and security. Al Jazeera’s Charlotte Bellis reports.

The result has been to make it even harder to present a strong hand to the testy Europeans sitting across the table. 

That means that some Brexit advocates endorsed Friday's deal, even as others spitballed it.

"She's gotten a deal in the interests of the whole U.K.," said Michael Gove in a BBC interview, giving his sign-off as a leading Brexit hard line campaigner.

Nigel Farage, the former leader of U.K. Independence Party and a staunch advocate of separation, said May was now able to "move on to the next stage of humiliation." He called the deal "pathetic."

May's challenges were on sharp display on Friday, as the first minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, said that she would fight to make sure any special concessions offered to Northern Ireland would also be available to the other nations within Britain. The pro-E.U. Sturgeon favors independence for Scotland.

The "devil is in the detail and things now get really tough," Sturgeon wrote on Twitter. "Any special arrangements for [Northern Ireland] must be available to other UK nations."

When E.U. leaders decide next week whether to unlock the next phase of the talks, they will likely also set out their demands for the transition period that Britain is seeking as it eases out of the bloc. They have indicated that they see little need to make concessions.

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Moving to talks about trade and a Brexit transition was crucial for May's own future after her premiership was thrown into doubt when she lost Britain agreed that should London and Brussels fail to agree on a final Brexit deal , the United Kingdom will maintain "full alignment" with those rules of

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and British Prime Minister Theresa May have announced a Brexit deal that will permit Brexit talks to move forward to the next phase . Video provided by Reuters Newslook.

"Not everyone has understood that there are points that are nonnegotiable for the E.U.," warned the chief E.U. negotiator, Michel Barnier.

European Council President Donald Tusk offered firm terms for the transition, saying that he believed E.U. leaders should demand that Britain face most of the requirements of E.U. membership even though it would no longer have any of the decision-making powers over the course of the roughly two-year transition period.

That "seems to be the only reasonable solution, and it is in the interest of all of our citizens that it be agreed as soon as possible," Tusk said.

He warned that Britain had consumed much of its negotiating time on issues he said were easier than the thorny subjects to come. Large-scale free trade agreements typically take years to hammer out. But if a deal is to be in place and approved before the March 2019 Brexit deadline, negotiators probably have less than a year, Tusk said.

The 27 remaining E.U. nations are also less likely to be united on trade the way they have been on the terms of the divorce, adding to the challenge of reaching a speedy deal.

"The most difficult challenge is still ahead. We all know that breaking up is hard. But breaking up and building a new relationship is much harder," he said.

More than half of Britons now want to stay in EU: poll .
A poll has found that 51 percent of Britons would now keep European Union membership while 41 percent want to leave the bloc, a near reversal of last year's referendum result.The BMG poll of 1,400 people for The Independent published on the newspaper's website on Saturday came as Britain moves into a second phase of negotiations on exiting the EU, which will focus on trade.

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