Soon after the resounding victory of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s party and which now paves the way for the exit of the United kingdom to leave the European Union, leaders at Brussels said that they were ready to start negotiations with London for the next phase of Brexit.
The EU leaders had hoped that one of the parties would get a decisive win at the UK general elections so that there is greater clarity in a crisis that has caused trouble for Brussels ever since the UK decided to leave the EU through a referendum in June of 2016.
However what is worrying EU leaders is the possibility that Boris Johnson could be wanting to get through with the Brexit negotiations at great speed and would like to strike a trade deal with the EU at a similar pace. There is also a worry about any possible efforts by the UK to diminish the unity among the remaining 27 members.
“My point is very clear: we are ready. We have decided what are our priorities,” said EU President Charles Michel as he arrived at an EU summit where leaders discussed the aftermath of the UK vote and the UK’s planned departure from the bloc on January 31.
“I hope we will have loyal negotiations, good negotiations,” added Michel, who coordinates EU summits for the bloc’s 28 member states, that for now also includes the UK.
“An early ratification by the British parliament” of the exit agreement negotiated between London and the EU is being hoped for by the former Belgian prime minister “so that we can start the negotiations on the next phase calmly, quietly but with great determination”.
Johnson was congratulated by the German Chancellor Angela Merkel on his party’s “clear” win. Other EU leaders also expressed relief of a three and half year period of uncertainty over Brexit which also included three delayed exit dates.
“A lot of remainers voted for Johnson because they were fed up. They wanted clarifications,” said Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel.
A Brexit text is set to be endorsed at the end of their two-day summit by the EU leaders. The summit has been dominated by climate talks.
According to some reports that have viewed the latest draft, the remaining leaders of the 27 countries of the EU will call for “as close as possible a future relationship with the UK” while warning that it “will have to be based on a balance of rights and obligations and ensure a level playing field”.
Further, the EU leaders will also direct the European Commission to submit “a draft comprehensive mandate for a future relationship with the UK immediately after its withdrawal.”
Trade negotiations will be directed by the EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier and the EU leaders will follow it closely “and provide further guidance as necessary, fully consistent with the EU’s best interest”, the conclusions will add.
Johnson has until July 1 to ask for a trade talk extension.
(Adapted from AlJazeera.com)