19th Mar 2018

EU parliament to table Brexit position in early October

  • The European Parliament is set to vote on a Brexit resolution on either 3 or 4 October. (Photo: European Parliament)

The European Parliament plans to table its assessment in early October on whether Brexit talks have advanced enough to begin a second phase of negotiations on future relations between the EU and the UK.

Guy Verhofstadt, a former Belgian prime minister and the EU parliament's point man on Brexit, told MEPs on Monday (4 September) that he wants to send the proposed resolution to the parliamentary groups by the end of September.

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The plan is to have the resolution voted on ahead of an EU summit, a gathering of EU heads of state and government, later next month. The summit leaders will determine whether to launch talks on future relations.

But the parliament's prognosis, which will feed into the summit, already looks bleak.

Verhofstadt - who had met with the EU's chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, on Monday before briefing the MEPs - says not enough has been achieved over the three rounds of talks so far.

"I have to tell you that after the briefing I had in July, in August, and also today with Mr Barnier, the assessment is very clear, there is not enough progress today to say ok, we can go immediately into phase two of the negotiations," he said.

It means negotiators are likely to keep discussing the terms of the UK's withdrawal instead of delving into the details on future relations.

While the October deadline is political rather than legal, the delay means the window of talks until the UK's default exit from the EU in March 2019 will narrow, piling on the pressure of a clean break.

Verhofstadt said the EU parliament's upcoming resolution will also look at citizens' rights, the financial settlement, and the border issue between Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Fourth round of talks delayed

He had also announced that the fourth round of talks could now take place at the end of the month "because apparently there will be an important intervention by the British prime minister in the coming days foreseen on the 21st of September".

The next round of talks had initially been scheduled for 18 September, but Downing Street has yet to confirm a date or venue for Theresa May's "important intervention".

May's spokesperson on Monday said the UK wants to start discussions on future relations as soon as possible and wants to intensify Brexit talks.

"We are ready to intensify negotiations. Nothing has been formally agreed, but that is something that we can discuss," the spokesperson told reporters.

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