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Top EU Diplomats Head to the English Seaside for Secret Brexit Away Day

LONDON — Ambassadors from all 27 EU countries will gather at a secret location in England later this month for private talks about the post-Brexit relationship.

The EU Delegation to the U.K. is organising “the first ever EU Heads of Mission Retreat” on April 28-29, according to an invitation seen by POLITICO. The event will be hosted by the EU Ambassador Pedro Serrano in a grand manor house on the south coast of England.

All 27 London-based ambassadors and high commissioners of EU member states have been invited to the retreat, described in the invitation as taking place “in an informal setting, with overnight stay, to exchange ideas and debate common challenges with key British interlocutors.”

A spokesperson for the delegation said further invites have been handed to U.K.-based think tanks — though not to British government officials or politicians — in order to promote a candid discussion.

A group of envoys had asked Serrano shortly after his arrival in London last year for more opportunities to discuss issues of common interest, arguing their current system of one-hour meetings every fortnight often fell short of time.

The invite nods at this request, stating that the retreat “serves as a networking and teambuilding event.”

Ambassadors have welcomed the timing of the initiative, after the U.K. and the EU finally agreed the Windsor Framework package of solutions to address the long-running row over post-Brexit trade rules in Northern Ireland — so opening the door to closer ties between London, Brussels and the EU capitals.

One ambassador from a large EU country said it was “the right moment … to discuss where are we heading to in the U.K.-EU relations.” A second ambassador representing a northern EU country said they expected the Windsor Framework and the future EU-U.K. relationship to be “the main issue” of the day.

Source: politico

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