PM’s Florence speech: a new era of cooperation and partnership between the UK and the EU

Author (Corporate)
Series Title
Series Details 22.09.17
Publication Date 22/09/2017
Content Type

Text of a speech Shared history, Shared challenges, Shared future given by United Kingdom Prime Minister Theresa May in Florence on the 22 September 2017. She attempted to set out how the UK would be the strongest friend and partner to the EU after the country left the EU.

The key elements of her speech related to:

+ The implementation period
+ The exit bill
+ Rights of EU citizens in the UK
+ Security
+ Irish border

The EU's lead negotiator Michel Barnier in his initial response said 'Theresa May has expressed a constructive spirit ... The speech shows a willingness to move forward, as time is of the essence'. 'We look forward to the United Kingdom's negotiators explaining the concrete implications of Prime Minister Theresa May's speech. Our ambition is to find a rapid agreement on the conditions of the United Kingdom's orderly withdrawal, as well as on a possible transition period'.

Background and further information
The UK triggered Article 50, the process for the start of the negotiations for the United Kingdom to leave the European Union on 29 March 2017. Up to the end of August 2017 three formal rounds of negotiations had taken place. In the closing speeches on the negotiations on the 31 August 2017 both leading EU and UK negotiators, Michel Barnier and David Davis expressed dissatisfaction and frustration with the lack of progress.

Before the fourth round of negotiations due to start on the 25 September 2017 Mrs May and her advisors decided that the United Kingdom needed to make a powerful and significant speech on the European mainland to attempt to get the Brexit negotiations moving forwards in the time-period leading up to the European Council, Brussels, 19-20 October 2017 at which the European Commision and EU 27 would decide whether 'sufficient progress' had been made in the first phase of the negotiations to permit a move to a second phase. The UK was keen to focus on second phase issues, which would include discussion of topics such as free trade, customs, justice and home affairs issues, and transition arrangements.

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