Germany and Italy back European Commission on Brexit
February 24, 2017
The Financial Times has reported that Germany and Italy are planning to rule out trade talks with Britain until the UK gives assurances on a “Brexit Bill” and citizens’ rights. British ministers were hoping that Germany would take a softer approaching and overruling anti-Brexit European Commissioners. David Davis, the British Brexit minister, is adamant that trade talks will start in parallel with discussions on the terms of Britain’s withdrawal. The Prime Minister, Theresa May, has increasingly favoured a hard Brexit, with no UK membership of the single market. While senior EU diplomats involved in the process say the position on when to start trade talks remains fluid, debate is expected to turn on what precise conditions to place on opening and advancing trade talks once Britain’s divorce negotiations have begun. Germany agrees with the European Commission’s view that “Any Article 50 agreement will have to include the UK’s assurances that it will honour the financial commitments it undertook as an EU member state.” Furthermore, Jean-Claude Juncker, the commission president, has reiterated that Britain will need to pay “financial costs” to cover old commitments under the budget.