World News

Merkel: EU ready for Brexit negotiations

Posted June 10, 2017 8:17 a.m. EDT

German Chancellor Angela Merkel says she doesn't expect any delays in the start of Brexit talks between the European Union and the UK despite the outcome of this week's British election.

Concerns grew that Brexit negotiations could be put on hold after Britain's Conservative Party failed to secure a majority in Parliament and a clear mandate in the snap election Thursday. Formal exit talks between the UK and the 27 other EU members were due to start June 19.

Britain voted to leave the EU in a referendum last year in what became popularly known as Brexit.

"We are ready. We have completed the guidelines, the framework," Merkel said Friday in Mexico City.

"And from everything I have heard from Britain today, they will respect their negotiations calendar. We want to do this quickly, respecting the calendar. Right now, I don't see any obstacles for the negotiations to take place as planned."

The parties must reach an agreement by March 2019 if the UK is to avoid crashing out of the bloc with no deal.

"We don't know when Brexit talks start," European Council President Donald Tusk tweeted Friday as the election results became clear. "We know when they must end. Do your best to avoid a 'no deal' as a result of 'no negotiations.' ''

Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, said he was also ready to start talks and hoped the UK general election would not have an impact.

Michel Barnier, the EU's chief Brexit negotiator, indicated on Twitter that the EU was prepared to show some patience, making it clear that talks should not begin until the political situation had settled in the UK.

Some EU officials and members of the European Parliament took aim at British Prime Minister Theresa May -- who called the UK's snap election in an attempt to strengthen her hand in the Brexit talks -- and the wider Conservative Party.

On Twitter, Siegfried Muresan, spokesman for the European Parliament's largest grouping, the European People's Party, said, "EU did not want #Brexit, but has been prepared to negotiate it since last year. UK wanted it, but is still not ready to negotiate."

He then posted, "Fact is, UK has no good options. Since 24 June 2016 (the date of EU referendum) Unfortunate."