Juncker: Brexit divorce terms before trade ties

Juncker: Brexit divorce terms before trade ties

BRUSSELS / LONDON
Juncker: Brexit divorce terms before trade ties

European Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker warned again on Aug. 29 that Britain must first agree its divorce terms with the European Union before any discussion of post-Brexit ties can begin.

“It has to be ultra-clear that we will not begin any negotiation on the future relationship ... before all the separation issues are settled, that is the divorce of the U.K. from the European Union,” Juncker said, according to AFP.

Juncker, a life-long proponent of closer EU integration, told an audience of EU diplomats that he was disappointed by the British government’s approach to the Brexit negotiations.

“I have read with all necessary attention all the position papers drawn up by the U.K. government but none of them really give me satisfaction, so there is an enormous amount of questions that need to be resolved,” he said.

Juncker’s comments came as the two sides continued a third round of Brexit negotiations in Brussels which got off to a rocky start on Aug. 28.

Chief EU negotiator Michel Barnier bluntly told his British counterpart David Davis as they went into the talks that London had to start “negotiating seriously,” with a March 2019 deadline looming fast.

For his part, Davis said the British position papers were “products of the hard work and detailed thinking that has been going on behind the scenes not just the last few weeks but the last 12 months.”

“They should form the basis of what I hope will be a constructive week of talks between the European Commission and the U.K.,” he said. 

Progress would depend on “flexibility and imagination,” he added.

The European Union says there has to be “sufficient progress” in three key areas -- EU citizen rights, Northern Ireland’s border and the exit bill -- before considering London’s demand to talk about post-Brexit arrangements.

EU leaders are due to decide in October whether that has been achieved but there has been growing speculation the decision will be put pack to December as the gulf between the two sides shows no sign of narrowing.

Meanwhile, British technology-focused recruiter InterQuest Group said yesterday that challenging market conditions in financial services, one of its core markets expected to be hit by Brexit, would materially impact net fee income for the year, Reuters reported.

The company, which places people in temporary and permanent jobs in Britain, Europe and North America, said in June that it was facing challenges because of Britain’s vote to leave the EU and the outcome of the general elections.

Recruitment companies have faced a challenging London market over the past year as Brexit uncertainty causes companies to hire fewer people and candidates move jobs less frequently.

Hiring in the financial industry has particularly taken a hit, even as a number of finance companies have committed to moving some operations to continue serving clients in the single market.