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16th Oct 2021

EU awaits UK proposals in final push for Brexit breakthrough

  • UK prime minister Theresa May will meet EU Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker again on 4 December - with the EU aware of how fragile May's domestic position is (Photo: ec.europa.eu)

The UK has until end of next week to make proposals to unblock talks on the Brexit divorce agreement, as a final push is being made on both sides to reach sufficient progress for the mid-December summit that EU leaders can give the green light on starting talks on the future relationship.

UK prime minister Theresa May will meet with European Council president Donald Tusk on Friday (24 November), and then on 4 December she will meet with EU Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker.

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By then the EU hopes to see concrete proposals from the UK on the outstanding issues with regards to citizens' rights – the role of the ECJ, and the exporting of social benefits, for example – the divorce bill, and especially on the Irish border issue.

The UK and the EU will work out a joint report on the progress made on Brexit so far, which will form the basis for EU's Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier to recommend whether or not EU leaders move onto to the next phase of the talks. This joint progress report is going to be presented to member states in early December.

Barnier and UK Brexit secretary David Davis could meet on 1 December to finalise the details, an EU source told this website.

No more formal negotiating rounds are expected, as diplomats on both sides are engaged continuously.

The EU needs the UK to clarify what it is willing to pay for in the divorce bill, as EU countries are keenly aware they will have to plug financial holes the UK leaves behind.

The bloc is not expecting a figure from the UK, and sources have said the EU side is willing to help the UK government to communicate the divorce bill in a way that does not cause an internal political shock to May's fragile leadership.

The EU-27, which has so far strongly supported Ireland's positions, will want to see a proposal from the UK on how to avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, and how to make sure that regulations in Northern Ireland stay in line with the bloc's rules.

In an earlier document, EU diplomats have said they would start drafting the European Council summit conclusions on 6 December. That document will decide if the UK and EU can move towards talk on a transition and the future relations.

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