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Czech official: EU needs to confirm progress in Brexit talks

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Prague, Dec 8 (CTK) – European Union member states still need to recognise the progress made in the Brexit divorce deal, Czech state secretary for EU affairs Ales Chmelar told CTK in reaction to the news that British PM Theresa May and EC President Jean-Claude Juncker reached an agreement on Friday.

The negotiators have agreed on the divorce deal after several months of effort. Juncker said talks on the post-Brexit relations can open.

Czech Prime Minister-designate Andrej Babis told public Czech Radio (CRo) on Friday that he feels sorry that Britain is leaving the EU because it was a Czech ally in the bloc.

Babis said the progress in the Brexit negotiations is good news.

He said the Czech priorities in the future relations with Britain continue to be the maintaining of the position of Czech citizens working in the United Kingdom and maintaining of the trade relations.

The Czech Republic will have to be active in the forthcoming talks on how much Britain is to pay to the EU budget on its departure, Babis told CRo.

Chmelar said the EU member states have the final say on whether a new stage of the talks between Britain and the EU will be open.

“We of course take the recommendation that the EC made today seriously, but the final position will be made by the EU leaders on Friday,” he said, referring to the EU summit that will be held in Brussels.

“Another stage of the talks has not ended, but an agreement between the negotiating teams was struck,” he added.

The final decision will be preceded by a number of other meetings on lower levels, Chmelar said.

If the first stage is completed, a discussion on the transitional period and the first outlines of the future relations may start, he said.

The first stage of the Brexit negotiations focused on citizens’ rights, a border regime between Britain (Northern Ireland) and Ireland and the financial settlement between the EU and Britain.

Britain is the first country that decided to leave the EU based on a decision made by a national vote. The Brexit referendum was held in June 2016. PM May officially announced the British plan to leave the bloc in March 2017, which means that the deadline for negotiating a deal expires in March 2019.

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