BRUSSELS – Spain’s Foreign Minister Alfonso Dastis expressed on Monday his confidence that the United Kingdom and the European Union would arrive at a Brexit agreement within the set two-year negotiation period.
Dastis spoke to the press as he arrived in Brussels for a meeting of the EU’s foreign ministers which took place as David Davis and Michel Barnier, the UK and the EU’s chief Brexit negotiators, respectively, sat down for a fresh round of talks.
“There has been an evolution in the UK’s position. I believe they are coming to terms with the fact that a transition period may be necessary,” Dastis told the press, adding that he was confident that, in time, and before the negotiation period closes, the UK and the EU would arrive at a solution.
The UK set in motion a two-year negotiation period in March, when Prime Minister Theresa May triggered Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty.
British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson offered a brief statement to the media as he arrived in Brussels, reiterating his Conservative party’s offer to provide EU citizens in the UK a post-Brexit option to apply for “settled status” up until a yet to be specified cut-off date.
“A very fair, serious offer has been put on the table by the UK government about citizenship, the value we place on the 3.2 million EU citizens in our country,” Johnson said.
Several EU leaders have branded the offer unsatisfactory, while further controversy has been stirred up by the notion that the UK could be made to pay a Brexit divorce bill to the EU.
Johnson told lawmakers in the UK’s lower chamber that EU leaders could “go whistle” if they thought the UK would pay a settlement fee for its withdrawal from the bloc.
The priorities for the negotiation teams in this first stage of discussions were to safeguard the rights of EU citizens living in the UK and vice versa, to arrive at a financial agreements with regards to deals struck by London and Brussels and to maintain a soft border between the Republic of Ireland, an EU member, and Northern Ireland, a region of the UK.