EU General Affairs Council Approves Brexit Negotiating Directives

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The EU General Affairs Council endorsed the EU Commission's negotiating directives on Brexit.

BRUSSELS (Sputnik) — The Council of the European Union's General Affairs Council approved on Monday the EU Commission's negotiating directives on the United Kingdom's exit talks with the bloc, the Maltese Presidency of the Council of the EU said.

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The European Commission published its Brexit directives on May 3, setting EU citizens' rights in the UK and a single financial settlement as priorities. The directives also allow for the Brexit talks to extend beyond the late March 2019 target.

The European Commission also included the negotiations over Ireland in the directives, noting that Brexit should not become an obstacle to the implementation of the Good Friday Agreement and that a hard border between the United Kingdom and Ireland should be avoided.

Earlier in May, former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair said that some of the language in the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, which provided the layout of the current devolved system of government in Northern Ireland and of its relationship with Ireland and the United Kingdom, would have to be amended after Brexit because the agreement was drawn up under the premise that all three parties to it were part of the European Union.

The United Kingdom is expected to conclude negotiations on its departure from the European Union by April 2019.

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On June 23 2016, the United Kingdom held a referendum to determine whether or not the country should leave the European Union. According to the final results, 51.9 percent of voters, or 17.4 million people, supported Brexit.

In late March, the United Kingdom officially began the withdrawal process by handing a formal letter to EU Commission President Donald Tusk. According to Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, London has two years to complete all relevant negotiations.

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