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Published: Fri, March 10, 2017
Economy | By Melissa Porter

May heads to Brussels for last summit before Brexit talks

May heads to Brussels for last summit before Brexit talks

"The UK in the future will be an important, one of the most important, interlocutors of the EU", Tajani said, noting that being outside the EU was however not the same as being a member. "I think everybody understands that and that's the reality".

The matter was "entirely separate and unrelated matter to the Brexit negotiations", he added.

Brexit is not formally on the agenda at the European Union summit but the PM has used these occasions to discuss Brexit-related issues with other leaders, for example the status of European Union nationals in the UK.

"I'm clear that when people voted on June 23 for us to leave the European Union, they voted for us in the future not paying huge sums of money into the European Union every year", May told a press conference.

The EU legislature will have to approve any deal with Britain after it quits the EU and will be involved in the Brexit negotiations once London triggers the talks in the coming weeks.

In a sign of the pressure Ms May will face on the issue, Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny indicated on Thursday that he would back demands for Britain to pay a divorce fee.

The European commission's chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, has reportedly discussed the figure with European leaders ahead of the crucial talks. "And obviously the extent of that level of money will be determined", he said.

The UK is facing a £1.7bn fine after failing to stop Chinese criminal gangs using the country as a fraud "hub", despite repeated warnings. The European fraud watchdog, Olaf, has recommended the fine be imposed by the European commission, but the United Kingdom is disputing the finding.

The Prime Minister has pledged to invoke the treaty clause before the end of this month, starting the two-year countdown to Brexit. The question is, can we do it in two years or will we take 15 years?

The EC President said he is still hoping that it was possible for PM Theresa May to trigger the Article 50 before March end despite the process being debated in the UK's parliament. "I am optimistic we can achieve a good and comprehensive trade deal with the European Union".

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