Pound gains, Brussels Summit wraps up
British Prime Minister is leaving from the two-day summit in Brussels today after reportedly being given a “green light” by EU to start preparations for the second phase of Brexit talks, dealing with trade.The pound was also stronger after ‘positive’ comments at the conference today.
Calling reports of a deadlock between the EU and the UK as ‘exaggerated’, European Council president Donald Tusk tweeted today from the summit: “Brexit conclusions adopted. Leaders green-light internal EU27 preparations for 2nd phase.” Just minutes before that May had told the media that she was “ambitious and positive” about negotiations but that there is still “some way to go”.
Read related story: German Chancellor raises hope, calls progress ‘encouraging’
Despite Mr Tusk’s announcement, the EU27 have formally delayed a decision on progressing talks until another summit in December. “Against this background, the European Council invites the Council (Art. 50) together with the Union negotiator to start internal preparatory discussions,” a document released today said.
Echoing this sentiment, the French president Emmanuel Macron told media that work on settling Britain’s financial obligations to the EU when it leaves is not even halfway done.
The settlement — estimated to be at least £20bn — has been the main sticking point of divorce bill talks.
“A lot is in the hands of Theresa May. If, as Prime Minister May said in Florence, we want to make sure that no-one will have to pay more or receive less, and if we want to make sure the UK will comply with all its commitments made as a member of the EU … I would say we are far from having reached the necessary financial commitments before we can open phase two.
“I can only underline how much work needs to be done,” Macron said in a news conference at the end of a European Council summit in Brussels.
Earlier today, May had clarified that a final agreement on a figure could only come as part of the final deal: “I’ve been very clear all along as the UK has, all along throughout this, that the full and final settlement will come as part of the final agreement that we’re getting in relation to the future partnership. I think that’s absolutely right.”
Yesterday, Angela Merkel had struck a positive on arrival when she had said that she was optimistic of a move to trade talks by December.
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