UK Politics

Brexit: EU summit on 29 April to discuss way ahead

Angela Merkel talking to Donald Tusk Image copyright AFP
Image caption Donald Tusk and Angela Merkel will be key figures in the process

A summit of EU member states to discuss Brexit is be held on 29 April, a month after the UK triggers Article 50.

The meeting will be used to agree the guidelines for the EU's negotiating team headed by Michel Barnier.

European Council president Donald Tusk said the priority would be giving "clarity" to EU residents, business and member states about the talks ahead.

Prime Minister Theresa May will officially notify the EU of the UK's intention to leave on 29 March.

She told her cabinet on Tuesday that triggering Article 50 would be an "historic event" and the start of a "bold new chapter... as a prosperous open and global nation".

The letter which she will send to Mr Tusk, will be "one of the most important documents in the country's recent history" and it will set the tone for a new relationship with the EU, she told her senior team of ministers.

April's meeting, which the UK will not attend, will be held just days after the first round of voting in the French presidential election.

Mrs May has said she hopes that talks will get under way as soon as possible although it is thought that they will not begin in earnest until after April's meeting and the final outcome of the French contest is known on 7 May.

In a statement, Mr Tusk said he regretted but respected the UK's decision to leave the EU and wanted the "process of divorce" to be as "painless as possible" for the European Union.

Do Leave and Remain voters want the same things?

A majority of Leave and Remain voters want Theresa May to secure restrictions on immigration from EU countries in Brexit talks, new research suggests.

The survey - by pollster Professor John Curtice - suggested 82% of Leave voters want EU migrants to be treated the same as those from outside the EU.

More than half of the Remain voters surveyed - 58% - agreed.

The National Centre for Social Research Survey of 2,322 people was carried out in February and early March.

It suggested 88% of those who voted to come out of the EU in last June's referendum wanted to maintain free trade with the EU, with 91% of Remain supporters backing that policy.

Other findings include:

  • 86% of Leave and 54% of Remain voters think prospective British migrants to the EU should have to go through the same hoops as non-EU migrants
  • 55% of Leave and 67% of Remain voters think the UK should make a financial contribution to EU programmes it takes part in
  • 67% of Leave and 83% of Remain voters think Britain should retain EU water quality and clean beach standards
  • 67% of Leave and 80% of Remain voters want to keep EU limits on mobile phone roaming charges

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Media captionBrexit divorce: 'conscious uncoupling' or bitter breakup?

"Our main priority for the negotiations must be to create as much certainty and clarity as possible for all citizens, companies and member states that will be negatively affected by Brexit, as well as our important partners and friends around the world like Japan," he said.

British ministers have said the EU's draft guidelines, which are expected to be published within 48 hours of Article 50 being triggered, will be a "very important" moment of "choreography" in the Brexit process.

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Once talks start, they are expected to focus initially on the rights of EU nationals living in the UK and Britons living on the continent as well as what, if any, payments the UK will have to make to the EU's budget to cover current and future liabilities.

Mr Barnier, a former European Commission official, has called for talks to be completed by October 2018 to give time for any agreement to be ratified before the UK leaves, expected on March 29 2019 under the two-year Article 50 process.

Within days of April's meeting, he is expected to make recommendations to EU leaders on how the talks should be structured to achieve this.

Investment bank Goldman Sachs is to move some jobs away from London and expand its European presence, a senior executive said on Tuesday.

The US bank's European chief executive, Richard Gnodde, said it would begin the process before the UK leaves the European Union but said the numbers involved were "in the hundreds of people as opposed to anything greater than that".

Another senior executive at the bank said last week that London would remain a significant financial hub after Brexit.

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