Tuesday

5th Jul 2022

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

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe 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.

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.

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.

Opinion

Nato's Madrid summit — key takeaways

For the most part Nato and its 30 leaders rose to the occasion — but it wasn't without room for improvement. The lesson remains that Nato still doesn't know how or want to hold allies accountable for disruptive behaviour.

Column

One rubicon after another

We realise that we are living in one of those key moments in history, with events unfolding exactly the way Swiss art historian Jacob Burckhardt describes them: a sudden crisis, rushing everything into overdrive.

News in Brief

  1. Turkey signs Nato protocol despite Sweden extradition row
  2. European gas production hit by Norway strike
  3. EU Commission told to step up fight against CAP fraud
  4. Ukraine needs €719bn to rebuild, says PM
  5. Germany records first monthly trade deficit since 1991
  6. Pilots from Denmark, Norway, and Sweden strike
  7. Report: EU to sign hydrogen deal with Namibia
  8. Israel and Poland to mend relations

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Canadian ministers join forces to combat harmful content online
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers write to EU about new food labelling
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEmerging journalists from the Nordics and Canada report the facts of the climate crisis
  4. Council of the EUEU: new rules on corporate sustainability reporting
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers for culture: Protect Ukraine’s cultural heritage!
  6. Reuters InstituteDigital News Report 2022

Latest News

  1. EU Parliament sued over secrecy on Nazi MEP expenses
  2. Italy glacier tragedy has 'everything to do' with climate change
  3. The Digital Services Act — a case-study in keeping public in dark
  4. Report slams German opposition to new child sexual abuse rules
  5. Is China a challenge to Nato? Beijing responds
  6. ECB announces major green shift in corporate bond-buying
  7. Ex-Frontex chief 'uninvited' from parliament committee
  8. Czech presidency and key nuclear/gas vote This WEEK

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us