Date: 29/3/2017

EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier hopes to complete the first phase of talks on Britain’s departure from the bloc by the fall of this year, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Saturday.

At a summit of the 27 countries that will remain in the EU after Brexit, Merkel also stressed that the negotiations would take place in distinct phases: Phase one will focus on the terms of Britain’s departure, including a financial settlement, and phase two will be about future relations between the U.K. and EU.

“Michel Barnier and the Commission today announced a very clear timeframe for phase one — they foresee phase one being completed by the fall of this year and then we could move to phase two,” Merkel told reporters after the summit in Brussels.

“Phase one of the negotiations will be about separation and we will negotiate phases one and two as clearly separate phases. And we will take a conscious political decision before we move from phase one — separation — to phase two, the transition to future relations,” Merkel said.

However, Merkel also made clear that the timing of the talks would depend to a large extent on Britain. The negotiations would begin only after Britain’s general election on June 8, she said.

“Then the first question will be: Is the British government as ready as the 27 EU countries to talk about financial obligations?” Merkel said.