BRUSSELS-The European Union hopes to start Brexit negotiations as soon as the day after the June 8 U.K. elections, the bloc's chief negotiator said Wednesday.
Speaking at the European Parliament, Michel Barnier said the EU would be ready to enter talks by the start of next week and wanted to get negotiations started "as soon as possible-the day after the elections," given the two-year deadline for a divorce deal.
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"The clock is ticking and there isn't much time ahead of us to conclude a good deal," he said.
Mr. Barnier said he was hopeful the U.K. elections in June would provide the next British government with "clear stability and visibility" for the negotiations.
He warned again that Britain would have to accept a phased approach to the negotiations, starting with the U.K.'s exit bill, Northern Ireland and citizens rights, before moving onto discussions on the future trade relationship.
Top British officials have rejected that approach in recent days, saying the U.K. can't make commitments on these issues without knowing the broader shape of a divorce deal and its future relations with the EU.
Mr. Barnier said many people regretted Britain's decision to leave, "but now we have to implement it and that decision has consequences."
"And anyone who says it can be business as usual afterwards, well that's not telling the truth," he added. "Nobody should underestimate any of the consequences here nor the legal complexity of the separation."
Write to Laurence Norman at firstname.lastname@example.org
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
May 17, 2017 06:24 ET (10:24 GMT)