Michel Barnier, the European Union's chief Brexit negotiator, has pinpointed two pressing issues he expects United Kingdom (UK) Prime Minister Theresa May to settle before Brexit can be negotiated. Barnier specifies the urgent need for a monetary proposal to pay for the "divorce" of Great Britain from the European Union (EU). He also specifies the equally urgent need for protections for European Union citizens living in Britain. He demands that these citizens should be safeguarded by the European Court of Justice, not by the United Kingdom's court system, as reported in a story by Reuters.

Progress toward Brexit

Progress toward Brexit depends, Barnier says, on Britain's "clear commitments" on these issues. Brexit is set for March 2019. May intends to have a two or three year post-Brexit transition period. As a member of the EU, the British government has paid a hefty annual amount to their budget. A point of contention is what payment the UK will be liable for post-Brexit. Britain contends it has no liability, while the European Union asserts that the British government will have an obligation for paying something in the neighborhood of 60 billion euros, as reported by Reuters.

Amid ongoing concerns for payment of the United Kingdom's post-divorce bill, Barnier makes it clear that a continuing relationship between the European Union (including individual EU trading partners) and the United Kingdom depends upon an orderly Brexit withdrawal agreement, a "'precondition'" for any "'future relationship'" with Britain, Reuters reports Barnier as saying.

May hopes to break deadlock on EU-UK agreement

A real fear over Brexit is that Britain's withdrawal from the EU will pose a disruptive break that will unsettle economies and trade relationships. Barnier makes May's request for a transition period following Brexit dependent upon Britain's acceptance of the Union's budget and rules.

Barnier further points out that the benefits requested by the UK would be measured by an equal obligation to the EU. He asserts that the more Britain wants, the more the obligations they will have to the European Union budget and rules.

Following deportation notices being wrongly sent to some of the 3 million EU expatriates in Britain, the rule that the Court of Justice provides protection for Britain's expatriate citizens is included in Barnier's demands, according to Reuters.

May's British government rebuts this idea by stating that the British justice system provides sufficient guarantees of protection for expatriates.

Impact of May's speech on Brexit deadlock

It remains to be seen over the course of time what impact May's speech in Florence, Italy, September 22, will have on this deadlock and on detractors on both sides of the channel. Will Great Britain's island nation be feeling its size as the effects of May's speech unfold, laying Britain's course, or will the Lion of England still have a mighty roar?