Wednesday

18th Jul 2018

No sign of Brexit speed-up after May-Juncker dinner

  • Juncker and May's previous dinner, in London in April, ended in media leaks about a nasty atmosphere (Photo: ec.europa.eu)

There was little sign of "acceleration" in Brexit talks despite the friendly body language at a dinner in Brussels on Monday (16 October).

British prime minister Theresa May and European Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker said they had "reviewed the progress made in the Article 50 [Brexit] negotiations so far and agreed that these efforts should accelerate over the months to come".

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... our join as a group

  • Davies (l) and Barnier also attended Monday's dinner (Photo: European Commission)

They said the dinner "took place in a constructive and friendly atmosphere".

Juncker also kissed May on the cheek and hugged Britain's Brexit negotiator, David Davies, on the way out.

May had made the trip to lobby the EU to start talks on a post-Brexit transition deal and on future trade relations at this week's summit.

Phone work

She also phoned French president Emmanuel Macron, German chancellor Angela Merkel, and Irish taoiseach Leo Varadkar on Monday.

But neither the dinner nor the phone diplomacy yielded a sign that EU leaders would grant her wish when they meet in Brussels on Thursday.

May's office said on Macron only that "they discussed progress in the negotiations and looked ahead to this week's Council".

May and Merkel agreed on "the importance of continued constructive progress". May and Varadkar spoke of "the importance of maintaining constructive progress".

Earlier in the day in Luxembourg, British foreign minister Boris Johnson had also called on the EU to launch the new phase of talks.

He said it was time for "the great ship to go down the slipway and onto the open sea and for us to start some serious conversations".

"Let's get these conversations going and stop letting the grass grow under our feet," he said.

But Luxembourg foreign minister Jean Asselborn repeated the EU line.

"Father Christmas comes in December and there is also a summit then," he said.

Behind the scenes

Behind the scenes, draft EU summit conclusions circulated on Monday said the EU would only start talks in December if "sufficient progress has been achieved" on three issues - citizens' rights, the Irish border, and the Brexit bill.

They said Barnier and Davies should already start "internal preparatory discussions" on "the framework for the future relationship and on possible transitional arrangements".

But the draft cut earlier language saying that the internal preparations should be "fully ready" by the end of the year.

Behind the scenes in Berlin, the German foreign ministry is taking a similar position.

A four-page ministry memo dated 11 October, seen by the Bloomberg news agency, said nothing about opening the new phase of talks before December.

It dangled the prospect of a "comprehensive free-trade accord" with the UK after Brexit, however.

It said the accord should be "balanced, ambitious and far-reaching", but with no British "cherry-picking" of competitive advantages.

It also said that broader British-EU relations should be a "close partnership" that covered "at a minimum" foreign and security policy, criminal justice, agriculture, energy, transport, and science, as well as the economy and trade.

Brexit 'deadlock' prevents move to trade negotiations

EU negotiator Barnier also said after the latest round of Brexit talks that with political will, progress can be achieved in the next two months - in time for the December EU summit to give the green light.

Johnson challenges May on hard Brexit

In yet an another attempt at becoming Tory leader, the UK foreign secretary argues for a hard Brexit, while PM Theresa May is expected to set out her strategy, including a financial settlement with the EU, on Friday.

EU rejects UK claim it's slowing Brexit talks

The EU is "not confident, but hopeful" that the UK will achieve sufficient progress for 'stage 2' by December, as Britain's Brexit negotiator blames the slow pace of negotiations on the EU ahead of a crucial summit meeting.

Analysis

May on mission impossible in Brussels

UK prime minister called on other EU leaders to "step forward together", but she has almost nothing to offer them except the threat of walking away.

EU begins preparations for Brexit trade talks

The EU has launched internal preparations for phase two of Brexit talks, but a December breakthrough only possible if UK gives more detail on divorce issues first.

EU stays calm as two top UK ministers quit

EU officials said Brexit negotiations will not be affected by the resignations of the foreign secretary and Brexit secretary. European Council president Tusk noted that "unfortunately the idea of Brexit hasn't left" with David Davis or Boris Johnson.

Opinion

Brexit - why can't we just swipe left?

The entire Brexit debate since at least 2015 has been like a bad date. But this is the age of Tinder, why can't we just swipe left?

News in Brief

  1. EU will reply 'tit for tat' to US trade measures
  2. EU Commission registers Brexit citizenship petition
  3. EU launches pre-accession probe for Albania and Macedonia
  4. Google faces multibillion euro EU fine for Android
  5. EU wants more guarantees from VW on Dieselgate fix
  6. EU to Russia: take responsibility for MH17 attack
  7. Juncker to meet Trump on 25 July
  8. EU and Japan sign trade and data deals

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  2. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  4. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  6. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  8. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  9. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  11. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future
  12. ACCAEmpowering Businesses to Engage with Sustainable Finance and the SDGs

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us