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SIDEBAR 'We Can Work It Out' - EU signals after May's Brexit speech By Naveena Kottoor and Emoke Bebiak, dpa

Europe
22.09.2017
By our dpa-correspondent and Europe Online    auf Facebook posten  Auf Twitter posten  
Brussels (dpa) - Six months after officially triggering Britain‘s departure from the European Union - and three rounds of lacklustre negotiations later - British Prime Minister Theresa May‘s Florence speech might yet prove be an icebreaker. 

For his part, Michel Barnier, the EU‘s chief Brexit negotiator, sounded conciliatory in a statement published right after the speech. 

"The speech shows a willingness to move forward," he said, signalling that the EU might consider a transition period, as suggested by May in Florence. 

Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni said May delivered a "constructive speech," but hinted that the challenge for May is yet to come: "The real test will be the negotiations with the EU," Gentiloni said on Twitter. 

While May‘s tone and vision might have struck a chord with EU leaders, as with all EU negotiations, the devil remains in the detail.

Stefan Lehne, an expert with the think tank Carnegie Europe, told dpa that success will depend "on whether the UK is ready in the negotiations that start Monday to actually substantiate what May has hinted at more completely."

Polish EU Affairs Minister Konrad Szymanski was more blunt: 

"The real problematic issue that remains to be resolved is the financial settlement," he said in a statement, adding that Poland is looking for Britain to fully meet its financial commitments. 

"Another condition is also full protection of our citizens‘ rights in the UK," Szymanski added. 

The EU is now looking to Britain to add more detail to May‘s vision in negotiations set to resume Monday. 

Barnier wants his counterpart, David Davis, to explain "the concrete implications of Prime Minister Theresa May‘s speech." 

But Carnegie‘s Lehne is doubtful that Davis will be able to deliver as long as the British cabinet remains split on what kind of future relationship to pursue with the EU. 

"There‘s no clear vision at this point on where they are headed, what they ultimately want to achieve," Lehne said. 

May will get a chance to charm her EU counterparts at a summit in the Estonian capital Tallinn next week. 

But, even if EU leaders decide to compromise, it remains unclear whether May will be able to convince the European Parliament to do the same. 

Any agreement between Britain and the European Union needs to be approved by EU deputies. 

The leader of the center-right European People‘s Party (EPP) group, Manfred Weber, said he was "even more concerned now." 

"In substance PM May is bringing no more clarity to London‘s positions," he posted on Twitter. 

But despite the grumbling in Brussels, May now has another chance to build some momentum.

But, while the EU might be willing to work out a compromise, the real challenge for May might be securing support from her own cabinet at home. 

 

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