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'Tell Us What You Want!' Italian Minister Cranks Up Pressure On May Over Brexit

The EU is still not clear what Britain wants from Brexit, according to a top Italian politician who has urged Theresa May to spell out her plans.

Italy’s Europe Minister Sandro Gozi, who spent ten years working for the European Commission before being elected to the Italian parliament, told HuffPost UK Theresa May needs to be clearer in her demands and the “ball is in the British court.”

His words were echoed by Ireland’s Europe Minister Helen McEntee, who told HuffPost UK “intensive talks” were needed in order to bring “clarity” to Britain’s position.

The pressure from the European politicians comes ahead of a crunch meeting of May’s cabinet next Tuesday, where ministers will for the first time be able to set out their visions for the UK’s post-Brexit relationship with the EU.

Speaking to HuffPost UK in Brussels on the day it was officially agreed that phase one of the negotiations had been completed, Gozi said January and February of next year would be used by the EU to prepare “the framework agreement on the future relationship” between the UK and the bloc.

He said the talks were moving at the “right rate”, but added: “It is not clear what Britain wants from the transition period, it is not clear what Britain wants for the future.

“The ball is in the British court and it’s up to the Brits to tell us how they see the transition period and how they see the future relationship.

“From an Italian perspective I do believe that transition period could be organised around a couple of years and based on the Single Market and the Customs Union.

“The closer the transition period is to the current situation the better for us, but it’s up to the Brits to tell us how they want to start the negotiations.”

Listen to the interview in the Commons People podcast

<i>Ireland's Europe Minister Helen McEntee</i>

Ireland’s Europe Minister Helen McEntee told HuffPost UK that while Britain has always been clear it wants “a very close relationship” with the EU, there now needed to be flesh on the bones of any future deal.

“Setting that out and what that means is what we’re going to do now in phase two.

“Particularly around transition, we know that maybe views have changed throughout this period of time and I think that’s why we need to have these intensive talks in the New Year to get a bit of clarity around what the UK is thinking and how that matches up with the EU so that we’re moving forward knowing what it is that everybody wants and everybody’s agreed to.”

In a document released on Friday afternoon, the EU set out its vision for what a post-Brexit transitional deal would look like.

The UK would still “participate” in the Single Market and Customs Union – meaning it would have to abide by laws around free movement of people, goods, capital and services.

It would also remain under the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice, and have to abide by any new laws passed during the expected two-year period.

However, the UK would have no role in EU institutions or decision making, meaning there would be no British MEPs in the European Parliament and the Prime Minister would be locked out of future summits.

Written by Lukas in December 16, 2017
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