President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker said on Wednesday he is confident Michel Barnier, Europe’s chief negotiator for Brexit, will “leave nothing to chance”.
Speaking during a plenary session in Strasbourg on Wednesday morning following the conclusions of the European Council meeting on Brexit at the end of April, Juncker said the process showed the EU’s “commitment to transparency”.
Speaking of Barnier, Juncker said: “I won’t wish him luck in the negotiations as I know he will leave nothing to chance.”
President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, said negotiations would take place with a phased approach and that citizens’ rights, financial commitments from the UK and free-trade agreements would be key.
He also said the European Union must “aim to avoid a hard border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland” to “protect the peace and reconciliation” set out in the Good Friday agreement.
He said the EU needed guarantees the UK would honour all financial commitments.
“It’s obvious the relationship between the EU and a non-member state cannot offer the same benefits as EU membership,” he said.
“It cannot mean participation in the single market. The UK must be aware any free-trade agreement will have to ensure a level playing field.
“Time is of the essence here, and much is at stake.”
Speaking of the way other EU member states had dealt with Brexit since the UK’s referendum on June 23 last year, Tusk said the EU27 had been “united, consistent and demonstrated solidarity”.
“This conduct,” he added, “shows the EU at its best.”