Tusk and May meet in London
UK Prime Minister Theresa May was meeting European Council President Donald Tusk at Downing Street on Tuesday in their first meeting since she set out plans for a two-year transition period post-Brexit.
Donald Tusk and Theresa May | Photo credit: Press Association
May’s proposals, in a speech in Florence on Friday, were generally welcomed by the EU side as a way of kick-starting the stalled Brexit negotiations.
On Tuesday, the UK Prime Minister and Tusk were due to meet for a working lunch and, according to one Council source, Tusk will inform May that a decision on whether Brexit talks can move to the next phase of negotiations will be taken on the basis of an assessment made by the European Commission of “actual progress at the negotiation table.”
A summit of EU leaders in Brussels at the end of next month will decide whether sufficient progress has been made in the talks so far.
Parliament is also due to produce a report within the next two weeks on whether it considers what progress, if any, has yet been made.
It is also believed that Tusk, at the meeting in London, will also say there will be no Brexit discussions at the informal gathering of EU leaders in Tallinn this Friday.
Speaking ahead of the meeting between Tusk and May, ECR group co-Chair Syed Kamall said that solutions to the key issues such as Northern Ireland, citizens’ rights and any outstanding financial obligations cannot be found unless the EU27, as well as the UK, “is willing to start looking at the bigger picture”, including the future EU-UK relationship.
On Monday, May met Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar who, afterwards, cast doubt on whether the talks can move to the next phase.
He said, “I don’t think, at this stage, it would be possible to say that sufficient progress has yet been made, but it may well be possible by the end of October when we meet in Brussels.
“Certainly, we will be very much guided by the report that Michel Barnier will make to the prime ministers and also the report that the European Parliament will make.”
Varadkar also called on the UK to be “more specific” about their vision of future UK-Ireland relations.
“Saying there will be no physical infrastructure [at the Ireland-UK border] is a very strong statement,” Varadkar said.
“The way I believe you can best achieve that is for the UK including Northern Ireland, to stay in some form of customs union and some form of single market with the European Union.”
Meanwhile on Monday at the start of the fourth round of Brexit talks, Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, told reporters, “The EU is keen and eager to understand better how the UK government will translate the Prime Minister’s speech into negotiating position.”
He called for “a moment of clarity” in talks this week.
At the same press conference in Brussels, Brexit Secretary David Davis repeated the UK’s position that no EU member state should pay more or receive less from the current budget framework, and argued that there “could be no excuses for standing in the way” of progress this week.
Davis also said, “It’s obvious that reaching a conclusion on this issue can only be done in the context of, and in accordance with, a new deep and special partnership with the EU.”
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.”
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