EU officials are planning to begin official Brexit negotiations on June 19 but can only confirm the date after the UK general election on June 8, according to reports.
EU sources told Reuters and the Guardian that the talks between the British government and the European Commission (EC), which will represent the interests of the remaining 27 EU member states, have been pencilled in to start on June 19.
Ministers from the EU 27 are meeting today to confirm that Michel Barnier will be the EU head negotiator.
EU officials are refusing to discuss even basic details of the talks with the UK government before the general election vote; partly because London has held up EU budget amendments citing a pre-election halt on decision making.
Barnier has told EC chiefs that the EU’s first priorities during the negotiations will be financial issues, the rights of EU citizens and the Irish border. He hopes a deal will be struck on those issues within the last two months of 2017.
If the talks go as planned, the EU will be ready to negotiate with Britain over the pair’s future trading arrangements, including a free trade deal and a transitional period, between December 2017 and spring 2018, according to statements Barnier made during a commissioners’ weekly college meeting on May 3.
Barnier plans to suggest to his British counterpart that the negotiations be split into four week cycles, each focused on a different area. The first week would be used by each side to prepare their cases, while the second would be used to exchange documents.
The negotiations between Barnier and Brexit secretary David Davis would be carried out during the third week and the fourth week would be used by Barnier to report back to the European Parliament and for both sides to prepare for the next round.
The EU would have five negotiation teams during the first phase, each specialising in key areas pertaining to Britain’s conditions of withdrawal.