LONDON– British Prime Minister Theresa May has succeeded in lifting the political pressure on her and her government at the domestic and European levels after finally getting European approval to move to the second phase of negotiations related to economic issues and the future of trade relations.
The British were anxiously awaiting the outcome of the EU leaders’ summit scheduled for Thursday and Friday, especially over financial settlement, the fate of European residents in Britain after the prexit and the future of the Irish border.
However, the progress made last Friday between Theresa May and European Commission President John Claude Juncker in Brussels lifted a huge burden on Britain and placed it in a more favorable position, especially at the domestic level.
The summit, which was expected to produce a tough European stance toward Britain, would have prevented it from ending this year by closing the first phase of the talks without reaching an agreement.
However, last Friday’s agreement paved the way for European leaders to discuss other issues and then routinely endorse the decisions of the EU-led European Commission and the European Council led by Donald Tusk.
The agreement, which was announced last Friday, revealed the real differences between London and Brussels and was actually based on the material aspect.
The two sides have been exchanging views in the past few months over the rights of European citizens and the guarantees guaranteed to them.
However, the progress was made only after Britain revised its position and agreed to pay an exit bill of around ?Pound 39 billion (USD 52 billion).
Since last year, the British government has refused to pay more than 20 billion pounds (USD 26.7 billion) and tried in vain to entice European residents to secure their rights and facilitate procedures such as obtaining residency after its exit in 2019.
While that was not enough, or rather it was not a priority for the European Commission because Britain has more than a million citizens in European countries and taking any tough measures toward the Europeans means punishing its citizens first.
Brexit Secretary David Davis said in a recent television interview that it was illogical that the United Kingdom agrees to pay a bill of billions of pounds without a trade deal with special privileges that will determine the future of economic relations beyond 2019.
He stressed that the talks were clear from the outset that the adherence to financial commitments is conditional on achieving a “good” agreement on a transitional phase to stabilize the new situation after the March 2019 withdrawal, adding that without a trade agreement, Britain can not pay dues for a service it did not get.
Davis said his speech did not mean that Britain had breached its well-known and agreed financial obligations, believing that the lack of agreement was a small possibility since the progress made last Friday.
Even the problem of land borders between Britain’s Northern Ireland and the European Union’s Republic of Ireland is no longer on the agenda of the European summit.
Prime Minister May pledged in this regard that her government would not impose real border barriers between the two countries, but would maintain the so-called “soft borders” to allow the passage of people and goods using sophisticated technology.
Source: Kuwait News Agency