Brexit: negotiations are at a “crucial” point, Judge Theresa May

The British Prime Minister said on Thursday that the Brexit negotiations had reached a “crucial” point, three days before a summit to seal the withdrawal agreement and the political declaration on the future relationship between the EU and the EU. the United Kingdom.

“The negotiations are now at a crucial moment,” Theresa May told British MPs. “All our efforts must be focused on working with our European partners to bring this process to a conclusion, in the interest of all citizens”.

The fate of the enclave of Gibraltar and the question of the future fishing rights of Europeans in British waters are among the main problems remaining to be settled to conclude these negotiations of unprecedented complexity, about four months from the British departure of the British. EU, scheduled for 29 March 2019.

“British sovereignty in Gibraltar will be protected” after Brexit, added the British leader, the day after a telephone discussion with Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez.

“After my conversation with Theresa May, our positions remain distant”, meanwhile tweeted Thursday Mr. Sanchez when arriving in Cuba. “My government will always defend Spain’s interests, and if there is no change, we will veto Brexit,” he added.

Spain has threatened to oppose any agreement on Brexit Sunday if it does not get written in black and white that it will have a veto over future negotiations over Gibraltar. To which the chief executive of this British enclave replied that Madrid brandished the “whip” in the discussions.

Theresa May also addressed the sensitive issue of the future access of European fleets to UK territorial waters. Some European countries, such as France, insist that access to the European market for British-caught fish is linked to European access to the British sea area.

“We rejected any link between access to our territorial waters and access to markets,” she said. “We will negotiate access and quotas on an annual basis, as do other independent coastal states,” she continued, citing Norway and Iceland.

Ambitious partnership

In the wake of a May visit to Brussels, a 26-page “political declaration” draft prepared by the two teams of negotiators was sent Thursday to European capitals.

This text was “agreed at the level of the negotiators and accepted in principle at the political level, subject to the approval of the leaders” present at the extraordinary European summit of Sunday, announced the president of the European Council Donald Tusk.

The document will be attached to the 585-page “withdrawal treaty” of the United Kingdom, which detracts from ties for more than 40 years of United Kingdom membership and was agreed last week.

This political declaration, consulted by AFP, “sets the parameters for an ambitious, broad, deep and flexible partnership” in the field of trade, foreign policy, defense and security. But unlike the treaty, even if it is of great political significance, to set the framework for negotiations that can begin only after the Brexit, scheduled for late March 2019.

The two negotiating teams also agreed that the post-Brexit transition period could be extended for up to two years after the end of 2020, the date originally foreseen in the withdrawal treaty.

During this transition, the United Kingdom will continue to apply the EU rules and contribute financially, without however participating in the decisions, much to the dismay of the British partisans of a clear and rapid break.

The announcement of this progress caused the British pound to rise against the dollar, but also led to harsh comments within the conservative majority of Theresa May.

“The withdrawal agreement will never pass the House of Commons,” said conservative MP Mark Francois, a member of the European Research Group, a group of eurosceptic conservative MPs.

Delicate balance

Theresa May will return to Brussels on Saturday to finalize negotiations on the eve of the summit.

Several of the 27 EU partner countries in the UK had insisted behind the scenes that negotiations should accelerate and capitals have enough time to review the texts, otherwise the summit could be postponed by diplomats .

“France and Germany agree: there should be no negotiations at the European Council (Sunday) and the texts must be ready in advance,” said a diplomatic source.

“It’s a delicate balance to find,” said another diplomatic source. The 27 do not want a text transmitted “at the last moment” but they “understand that Ms. May needs a little dramaturgy to show that she negotiated until the end.”

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