EU Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker and the bloc’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier will hold talks with British Prime Minister Theresa May in London next Wednesday, a spokeswoman said. “President Juncker will travel to London at the invitation of Prime Minister May to discuss the process of the Article 50 negotiations between the EU 27 represented by the commission and the United Kingdom,” commission spokeswoman Mina Andreeva told reporters today.
Barnier, who is the EU’s chief negotiator for Britain’s exit from the 28-nation bloc, and Juncker’s chief of staff Martin Selmayr would accompany Juncker for the talks at Downing Street. Juncker will follow in the footsteps of European Parliament President Antonio Tajani, who is meeting May in London on Thursday, and European Council chief Donald Tusk, who visited Downing Street on April 6.
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The announcement of the visit comes just two days after May unveiled plans to hold a snap general election in Britain on June 8 in what she hopes will give her a “mandate to complete Brexit”. Britain voted to leave the EU last June and May formally triggered Article 50 — the EU’s divorce clause — on March 29, beginning what are set to be two years of difficult negotiations before Britain finally leaves.
EU leaders will meet in Brussels on April 29 to formally approve guidelines for the negotiations. Barnier is expected to get a formal mandate to begin talks on May 22 although they are not now expected to begin in earnest until after the British election.