'Orderly withdrawal': The EU published its guidelines for negotiating Brexit

LONDON — The European Union on Wednesday published its official guidelines for negotiating Brexit with the United Kingdom, setting out its aims for the two years of talks that lie ahead.

“The main objective of the Agreement is to ensure an orderly withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union and from the European Atomic Energy Community,” a European Commission paper says.

The EU’s aims for negotiations are split into two phases, the paper shows, with Wednesday’s paper dedicated to the first phase of talks, in which the EU attends to reach two goals.

They are as follows:

  • To “provide as much clarity and legal certainty as possible to citizens, businesses, stakeholders and international partners on the immediate effects of the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the Union.”
  • And to “settle the disentanglement of the United Kingdom from the Union and from all the rights and obligations the United Kingdom derives from commitments undertaken as a Member State.”

Within these aims, the EU has officially set out its base positions on a series of issues, including that it sees safeguarding the rights of EU citizens in the UK, and vice versa as the most important issue during talks.

“Safeguarding the status and rights of the EU27 citizens and their families in the United Kingdom and of the citizens of the United Kingdom and their families in the EU27 Member States is the first priority for the negotiations because of the number of people directly affected and of the seriousness of the consequences of the withdrawal for them,” it says.

Wednesday’s paper also provided confirmation that the EU will expect Britain to pay a substantial financial settlement on leaving the bloc.

“A single financial settlement should ensure that both the Union and the United Kingdom respect the obligations resulting from the whole period of the United Kingdom membership in the Union. The negotiations relating to the methodology for the financial settlement should be based on the following principles,” the paper says.

Calculations for how much the UK owes the EU will be based on Britain’s owed contributions to the EU budget, as well as the costs associated with withdrawing from EU bodies or institutions, and its exit from “specific funds and facilities related to Union policies (e.g. the European Development Fund and the Facility for Refugees in Turkey).”

European Chief Negotiator for Brexit Michel Barnier said at a press conference alongside the release of the guidelines that any financial settlement is not a “bill” and said he did not know how much that settlement would be worth.

Various estimates have been floated, with the Financial Times writing on Wednesday that it could be as much as €100 billion.

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