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EU says Brexit negotiations will start after British election

The "real political" negotiations on Britain's exit from the European Union will start after the snap British election in June, European Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas said Wednesday.

Schinas said the negotiations had been due to begin in June even before his boss Jean-Claude Juncker had spoken Tuesday to British Prime Minister Theresa May in the wake of her shock call for an early election.

“The president considers that the real political negotiations on article 50 with the UK will start after the elections foreseen for the 8th of June,” Schinas told a press conference in Brussels.

“The negotiations were meant to start in June regardless of the UK government (election) decision,” he said when a journalist recalled the all-clear for negotiations is planned for late May.

May launched in late March the countdown for the Brexit divorce proceedings when she triggered article 50 of the EU’s Lisbon treaty.

In a surprise U-turn, May called Tuesday for a general election as she tries to make strong gains against the opposition before the tough Brexit negotiations. The British parliament is due to vote Wednesday on the call.

Schinas and other EU officials have said they expect draft Brexit guidelines to be adopted by the leaders of the other 27 EU countries at an April 29 summit.

They said ministers from those member states are then scheduled to meet on May 22 to formally issue detailed directives for the negotiations to be led by Michel Barnier, who previously held high-level French government positions.

“This will allow the EU27 to start negotiations,” Preben Aamann, spokesman for Donald Tusk, president of the European Council of member states, told AFP on Tuesday.

Tusk issued a set of draft guidelines late last month rejecting May’s call for talks on the terms of the divorce bill and on a future trade deal in parallel during the two years of negotiations ahead of Britain’s exit in March 2019.

Schinas also said two British-based EU institutions, the European Banking Authority and European Medicines Agency (EMA), “must be based in the territory of the European Union” once Brexit is complete.

He said the British government will have “no say” on the issue because it is not part of the Brexit negotiations, but “will have to ease the burden of relocating” staff to EU cities. DM

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