Thursday, 19 October, 2017

European Union plans Brexit summit gesture, May hints on cash

The breakthrough follows pleas by Brexit Secretary David Davis and EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier The breakthrough follows pleas by Brexit Secretary David Davis and EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier
Stacy Diaz | 13 October, 2017, 23:50

"This is a very big gesture towards Britain, maybe way too big", a senior European Union diplomat said ahead of an evening meeting of envoys from the 27 remaining states to discuss Tusk's draft for a statement to made after leaders meet in a week's time.

Talking to students in his home country of Luxembourg, he said that the British negotiators are discovering new problems day-to-day. "That's why this process will take longer than initially thought", Juncker said in a speech at a university in his native Luxembourg.

On the question of Britain's "divorce bill" - which he previously suggested could come to around £50 billion - Mr Juncker said: "We can't find for the time being a real compromise as far as the remaining financial commitments of the United Kingdom are concerned. The Europeans have to be grateful for so many things Britain has brought to Europe, during war, before war after war, everywhere and every time, but now they have to pay." he said to laughter from the audience.

The EU has told Britain that a summit next week will conclude that insufficient progress has been made in talks for Brussels to open negotiations on a future trade deal.

He said: "My mandate looked ahead to these different stages.Slowly but surely, over the next few weeks, I will explore ways of getting out of this deadlock we find ourselves in on the financial issues with a view to making sufficient progress by the next European Council".

In its strongest conclusion, it proposes that Barnier start working out internally - without negotiating with London - what will happen after Brexit. Barnier said those are rights to do with post-Brexit decisions and should be dealt with in the next phase of talks.

It echoes Mr Barnier's concerns that a "disturbing" deadlock over the size of Britain's exit bill means it is not yet time to move on to negotiations over the future UK/EU relationship.

Apart from Juncker, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron also threw their support behind Spain amid the crisis.

A spokeswoman for Theresa May said: "The Prime Minister has been clear all along that we need to reach a settlement and we will honour our commitments that we have made during our period of membership of the EU".

The Downing Street also announced that the detail of the financial settlement was for the negotiation and that the issue could "only be resolved as part of the settlement of all of the issues that she spoke about in Florence".

Davis announced a "streamlined" new system for the 3 million European Union citizens in Britain to claim residence rights, answering European Union concerns, and said he expected good further progress on other issues. If we interfere, situation becomes much more complicated, "he said".