EU presses UK for clarity on Brexit divorce bill

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Brussels, July 20 (IANS) The UK must make clear its position on a European Union divorce bill before Brexit talks can focus on a future trade deal, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator said on Thursday.

Michel Barnier, who was speaking alongside his British counterpart David Davis following a second round of Brexit discussions in Brussels, said a financial agreement was also necessary in order to properly tackle other key points on the agenda, Efe news reported.

“A clarification of the UK position is indispensable for us to negotiate and for us to make sufficient progress on this financial dossier, which is inseparable from the other withdrawal dossiers,” said Barnier, a former French government minister.

“We make progress where our respective positions are clear,” he added.

In this first phase of Brexit talks, negotiators seek to lay the ground work for a final deal by firstly addressing crucial issues such as living rights for EU citizens in the UK and vice versa as well as maintaining an open border between the Republic of Ireland, an EU member state and Northern Ireland, a UK region.

Although these fundamental points had been agreed as necessary by both parties, there were divergent opinions on how they should be implemented and maintained.

One of the standout contentions was raised by Barnier at the Brussels press conference when he argued that citizens’ rights could only be properly safeguarded by the EU’s Court of Justice.

The Conservative government in the UK had rejected this notion as a breach in the principals of severing ties with Brussels.

David Davis, whose job as Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union was created in the wake of the Brexit referendum result in June 2016, described this week’s talks as “robust but constructive”.

“We agree on the need certainty on the part of citizens both of the EU and the UK, we obviously have different views on how we achieve that,” Davis said.

Both sides remained committed to maintaining a free travel area on the Irish border, a busy trading point on which local businesses heavily depend.

Brexit negotiations officially began in June, three months after UK Prime Minister Theresa May initiated the formal mechanism to withdraw the country from the bloc.

Officials have until March 2019 to unpick decades of economic and political cooperation and strike up a final deal to shape a future relationship.

–IANS

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