Time for Brexit deal short, says EU negotiator

London, Dec 6 (IANS) The European Union’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, warned Britain on Tuesday it may only have 18 months to strike an exit deal from the bloc, local media reported.

Barnier told reporters that “time will be short” for negotiations because the proposed deal needed to be ratified as part of the two year process set to be triggered in March.

He said Britain will have to reach a Brexit deal by October 2018, reported BBC. Barnier also said that Britain could not “cherry pick” on issues such as the single market.

Speaking at a press conference in Brussels, he said a taskforce of 30 people had been set up to make sure the EU would “be ready” when Article 50 was called.

“All in all there will be less than 18 months to negotiate. That is short. Should Britain notify by the end of March as Prime Minister Theresa May said she would, it is safe to say negotiations could start a few weeks later and an Article 50 deal reached by October 2018.”

“Being a member of EU comes with rights and benefits. Third countries (non members as Britain will be after Brexit) can never have the same rights and benefits since they are not subject to the same obligations.”

Barnier said he “didn’t like to speculate very much” on what the future relationship between the EU and Britain would be, but it was time to “keep calm and negotiate”.

Barnier, who made his first public speech on the issue, was appointed to the post of chief Brexit negotiator on October 1 by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.

–IANS

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