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MNI: EU Side Want Substance From May Brexit Speech

MNI (London)
--EU Waiting To See UK Calculations On Financial Settlement
By Tara Oakes
     BRUSSELS (MNI) - Brussels negotiators will be "very annoyed" if UK Prime
Minister Theresa May's Florence speech doesn't put some meat on the bones for
next week's negotiations, an EU source told MNI Friday.
     Extracts from May's speech obtained by MNI Thursday paint a rosy vision of
the future relationship with the bloc.
     But none of the comments seen mention the key elements many are hoping she
address: an acknowledgement of the need for a transition or the UK's obligation
to stump up money for the EU.
     The EU source, close to negotiations, said that an outright figure would
not be so welcome as a detailed working out from the UK of what it believes it
actually owes money for.
     May's speech, her first major Brexit intervention since she signed the
letter triggering Article 50 in March, has the hopes of both sides riding on it
to give momentum to frustratingly slow progress in talks.
     The need for a transition has gained momentum in the UK as the British
government realises the complexity of withdrawing from the bloc. 
     But the EU says hammering out the withdrawal agreement has to come first.
     "Without a withdrawal agreement, there is no transition. This is a point of
law," Chief EU negotiator Michel Barnier told the Italian parliament Thursday.
     May's speech, set for 1415 UK time/1515 local time in Florence, may face a
slight delay according to a UK government source. It is still expected to begin
before 1530 local.
     Her planned pitch to leaders next Thursday over dinner in Tallinn is also
being hailed as an important moment by many in the UK.
     But for member states in Europe, negotiations in Brussels between Barnier
and his counterpart David Davis next week should still be the focus and where
the real work is done.
--MNI Brussels Bureau; +44 203-865-3851; email:
--MNI London Bureau; tel: +44 203-586-2225; email:
[TOPICS: M$B$$$,M$E$$$,MC$$$$,MI$$$$]
MNI London Bureau | +44 203-865-3812 |

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