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Macron sees 'advances' by May in Brexit speech

Saturday, September 23, 2017

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PARIS, France (AFP) — French President Emmanuel Macron yesterday noted “advances” and “openings” in British Prime Minister Theresa May's highly anticipated Brexit speech, in which she called for a two-year transition period after the UK leaves the bloc.

Speaking to journalists at the presidential palace, Macron said “the signals sent by the British prime minister show a willingness” ahead of a new round of talks between Britain and the EU next week.

“Before moving forward, we hope to clarify things regarding the treatment of European citizens, the financial terms of the exit, and the question of Ireland,” Macron said, reiterating the bloc's stance.

“On two of these three issues... openings have been made,” he added without providing further details, saying it was up to the EU's chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier to address these points.

In her speech, May promised to meet Britain's existing EU budget commitments until 2020 and outlined new legal guarantees for the rights of around three million EU nationals living in the UK.

Barnier welcomed what he called the “constructive spirit” of May's speech in Florence but said he would wait to hear the “concrete implications”.

Macron, for his part, plans to outline his proposals for the future of the EU after Brexit at a speech at the Sorbonne University in Paris on Tuesday, his office said yesterday.

The pledges were part of a charm offensive aimed at unblocking the negotiations in time for a meeting of EU leaders on October 19-20, when her 27 counterparts will decide if talks can move onto trade.

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