Theresa May in Brussels for crunch Brexit talks
UK Prime Minister Theresa May and her Brexit secretary, David Davis, were in Brussels on Monday for crunch talks ahead of this month’s EU summit.
Theresa May and Jean-Claude Juncker | Photo credit: Press Association
Theresa May will be meeting European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and his Council counterpart Donald Tusk for further discussions.
At the meeting, May is due to present the UK’s offer on the withdrawal phase of negotiations. The EU has reportedly set Monday as the absolute deadline to secure an agreement that opens the way to sufficient progress at the EU27 leaders’ summit on 14-15 December.
The visit follows negotiators’ meeting over the weekend.
One senior EU official reportedly said that the UK and EU are “85-90 per cent” of the way to securing an agreement for negotiations move on to trade and transition talks.
The EU says the talks cannot progress to the next stage until agreement is reached on its three red lines, the Irish border issue, citizens’ rights and the UK’s divorce bill.
Ahead of May’s visit, a UK government spokesperson said, “With plenty of discussions still to go, Monday will be an important staging post on the road to the crucial December council.”
Meanwhile, Donald Tusk says that Brexit has caused “uncertainty for millions of people in Europe.”
He was speaking after a meeting in Dublin on Friday with Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.
After the meeting, Tusk said, “It is no secret that we discussed Brexit with a special focus on the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland.”
He said he had sought to “reassure the Taoiseach and all the Irish people that the EU is fully behind you and your request that there should be no hard border on the island of Ireland after Brexit. The Irish request is the EU’s request.”
He added, “The UK’s decision to leave the EU has created uncertainty for millions of people in Europe. Perhaps, nowhere is this more visible than in Ireland. The border between Ireland and Northern Ireland is no longer a symbol of division, it is a symbol of cooperation. And we cannot allow Brexit to destroy this achievement of the Good Friday agreement.
“It is the UK that started Brexit and now it is their responsibility to propose a credible commitment to do what is necessary to avoid a hard border. It is clear that we cannot reach a full agreement on every single detail at this stage, especially that the final outcome will be linked to the future relations between the EU as a whole and the UK.”
Tusk said that he had asked May to put a final offer on the table by Monday “so that we can assess whether sufficient progress can be made at the upcoming European Council.”
He went on, “Let me say very clearly: if the UK's offer is unacceptable for Ireland, it will also be unacceptable for the EU. I realise that for some British politicians this may be hard to understand.
But such is the logic behind the fact that Ireland is an EU member while the UK is leaving. This is why the key to the UK’s future lies - in some ways - in Dublin, at least as long as Brexit negotiations continue.”
Both the EU and UK have been condemned for “side-lining” concerns of civil society in the Brexit talks by allegedly granting “extremely privileged access to corporate lobbyists.”
European leaders have given their approval for Brexit talks to move on to the next phase.
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