The British government wants the negotiations to include the future relationship with Europe and an all-important trade deal with the bloc.
A key issue he did not mention was the EU’s bill for Britain to leave, which Brussels estimates at a colossal 100 billion euros.
Ireland has been part of the European Union since 1973 and has had a free-flowing border with Northern Ireland since the Good Friday Agreement in 1998 that ended 30 years of sectarian violence in Northern Ireland, known as “The Troubles”.
Asked if he had given any ground to Britain, Mr Barnier said: “I am not in a frame of mind to make concessions, or ask for concessions”.
Roth said that “Brexit is a very, very hard operation” and there’s only a bit over a year to negotiate it.
German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel told Sunday’s Welt am Sonntag newspaper that “maybe there is now a chance to achieve a so-called “soft Brexit.'” But he said staying in the single market would require Britain to accept European Union workers” freedom of movement.
“It’s a statement of common sense that if we are going to radically change the way we work together, we need to get there via a slope, not a cliff edge”.
Anxious by immigration and loss of sovereignty, Britain voted past year to end its four-decades-old membership of the 28-country bloc – the first state ever to do so. But the timing could hardly be more problematic for a change in May’s original plan, only days before talks are to begin with the European Union and amid signs of frustration in Brussels at the political turmoil in London. May, whose future is uncertain after she lost her Conservative majority in an election this month, has insisted that trade talks start immediately and run in parallel.
Britain’s political instability has caused concerns in European capitals hoping to get the negotiations over with quickly and cleanly, as has May’s oft-repeated threat to walk away from the talks without a deal if necessary.
“A fair deal is possible, and far better than no deal …”
Because the exact moment of exit is midnight Brussels time, the United Kingdom is due to leave at 11pm on March 29.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel says she hopes for a “good agreement” after Brexit talks in which 27 European Union countries will listen carefully to what Britain wants but also defend their own interests.
Sir Keir said the loss of Mrs May’s overall majority in the June 8 General Election meant Parliament could no longer be “marginalised” in the Brexit process and “appropriate steps” must be taken to prepare for a Labour administration to take over negotiations at any stage if Mrs May’s Government falls.
An increasingly concerned European Union has been pushing London to hurry up, with time running out for a deal and three months already gone since May triggered the two-year Article 50 European Union exit process.
– September 24 – German federal elections could see Angela Merkel replaced as Chancellor by former European Parliament president and staunch federalist Martin Schulz, who once called for the creation of a “genuine European government”.
But many in Brussels fear that London has no real strategy, with May under pressure at home and still trying to close a deal with a conservative Northern Ireland party to stay in power, and facing criticism for her handling of the aftermath of a devastating tower block fire.
– October 2018 – Mr Barnier hopes to be able to conclude withdrawal negotiations around this point, in order to allow time for them to be ratified before the end of the two-year Article 50 deadline.