Czech PM Sobotka: Rapid approval of Brexit talks guidelines shows unity of EU leaders

Photo: ČTK

The Czech Republic’s Bohuslav Sobotka and the leaders of 26 other European Union states unanimously approved negotiating guidelines for Brexit talks with the United Kingdom at a special summit in Brussels on Saturday afternoon.

Donald Tusk,  photo: ČTK
Mr. Sobotka said the adoption of the draft guidelines issued by European Council president Donald Tusk had confirmed the leaders’ “unified and common approach”.

He said the fact agreement had been reached in just a few minutes had been a good sign at the beginning of negotiations that would be far from easy.

Mr. Sobotka said the unity displayed on Saturday meant among other things that the result had to be just for all member states.

Under the guidelines, separation talks are set to initially focus on agreeing the rights of EU citizens living in the UK and Britons living in the EU, along with a settlement for Britain’s financial obligations as a member of the EU.

Bohuslav Sobotka,  photo: ČTK
Echoing Donald Tusk's proposals, the Czech leader Tweeted on Saturday that only once sufficient progress had been made on those areas in formal negotiations due to begin in June would a future trade deal between the two sides be on the table.

Prior to taking a government plane to Brussels, Mr. Sobotka had told reporters that the Brexit negotiations with the UK ought not to be allowed to impact present European Union funds.

He said the Czech Republic had made plans on the basis of current European funds and did not wish to see a reduction in the amounts involved. There is broad consensus across the Czech political spectrum on this view, he said.

Shortly after the EU leaders rubberstamped their position on Brexit talks with the London government, the European Section of the Office of the Czech Government published a letter dated April 27 from Prime Minister Sobotka to the president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, offering to host the European Banking Authority (EBA) in the Czech Republic in future. The institution is currently headquartered in the UK capital, London.

Photo: ČTK
In the letter the Czech PM said Prague was committed to the further promotion of European values and to mitigating any risks for the internal market and the EU as a whole, especially in connection to Brexit. He also highlighted the advantages of the Czech Republic’s central geographical position.

The EBA, which coordinates European Union banking rules, has a staff of 160. Other EU member states have also expressed interest in hosting the institution.