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News 13 Oct 17

Romania Denies Blocking Brexit Negotiations

Romania’s President Klaus Iohannis on Thursday dismissed claims that Bucharest was blocking the Brexit negotiations over concerns about the large number of Romanians now living in the UK. 

Ana Maria Touma
Romania's President Klaus Iohannis. Photo: European People's Party/Flikr

Romania is not blocking the Brexit negotiations, but the country is naturally interested in defending the principle of the free movement of people, President Klaus Iohannis said on Thursday.

According to a report published on Thursday in the UK Times, Romania has supported France and Germany in demanding a halt to the Brexit negotiations until an agreement is reached on the right of EU citizens residing in the United Kingdom.

London would want the right to be guaranteed by British courts first, while the EU states oppose that, arguing that British legislation is subject to continuous change.

The report said that the three states also want to clarify the so-called “Brexit bill”: the EU wants the UK to pay around 60 billion euros, while the British government is speaking only of 20 billion euros.

“Romania has never blocked any negotiations and doesn’t plan on doing that, either. I can tell you this as someone who is involved in the process,” Iohannis said on Thursday.

“Romania is not blocking anything but all the 27 remaining EU members after UK leaves have decided to set up a team of negotiators, a very well chosen team, a skilled team. We gave this team a mandate: to negotiate above all the most important conditions for Britain’s exit from the European bloc,” he added.

However, he said that among the chapters about which Romania is adamant and wants to see intense negotiations are those on freedom of movement as well as the UK's financial obligations. “These are matters that no country is negotiating by itself, but by the team we established together,” Iohannis explained.

The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, said on Thursday that talks had reached “deadlock” over the UK’s financial obligations and that he would not recommend the European Council to authorize a shift to the second phase of talks, on trade, during a summit in Brussels next week.

Over 320,000 Romanians live the United Kingdom, according to statistics. According to Britain's statistics office, ONS, the number of Romanians and Bulgarians in the UK has risen by 80 per cent since 2014, when remaining restrictions on their working rights in the UK were lifted.

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