Conte meets EU's chief Brexit negotiator

Conte meets EU's chief Brexit negotiator

Italy's premier Giuseppe Conte met the European Union's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier in Rome on Wednesday to discuss Britain's planned withdrawal from- and future ties with - the 28-member bloc, Conte's office said in a statement.

Following the unanimous approval on Sunday by EU leaders of the draft withdrawal treaty, Conte and Barnier discussed a series of issues "of direct interest to Italy", said the statement.

Topics that figured in the talks included citizens' rights, especially of the most vulnerable, and the protection Italian geographical indications, according to the statement.

"Chief Negotiator Barnier confirmed the validity of the deal reached, recognising the Italian government's determination and coherence in defending its own legitimate interests," the statement said.

Conte and Barnier agreed on the need to maintain a united approach - both at European and national level - in preparing for the possibility of Britain exiting the EU on 29 March 2019 without a deal should the British parliament vote down the withdrawal treaty, the statement concluded.

British MPs are due to vote on the Brexit withdrawal treaty on 11 December. The European parliament must also ratify the treaty.