Saturday

2nd Dec 2023

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.

Russia loses seat on board of chemical weapons watchdog

Russia lost its seat on the board of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons for the first time in the organisation's history — while Ukraine, Poland, and Lithuania were elected to the executive council.

Opinion

'Loss and Damage' reparations still hang in balance at COP28

There is still work to be done — especially when it comes to guaranteeing the Global North's participation in financing Loss and Damage, and ensuring the Global South has representation and oversight on the World Bank's board.

Latest News

  1. Israel's EU ambassador: 'No clean way to do this operation'
  2. Brussels denies having no 'concern' on Spain's amnesty law
  3. Dubai's COP28 — a view from the ground
  4. Germany moves to criminalise NGO search-and-rescue missions
  5. Israel recalls ambassador to Spain in new diplomatic spat
  6. Migrant return bill 'obstructed' as EU states mull new position
  7. Paris and Berlin key to including rape in gender-violence directive
  8. What are the big money debates at COP28 UN climate summit?

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersArtist Jessie Kleemann at Nordic pavilion during UN climate summit COP28
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP28: Gathering Nordic and global experts to put food and health on the agenda
  3. Friedrich Naumann FoundationPoems of Liberty – Call for Submission “Human Rights in Inhume War”: 250€ honorary fee for selected poems
  4. World BankWorld Bank report: How to create a future where the rewards of technology benefit all levels of society?
  5. Georgia Ministry of Foreign AffairsThis autumn Europalia arts festival is all about GEORGIA!
  6. UNOPSFostering health system resilience in fragile and conflict-affected countries

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Citizen's InitiativeThe European Commission launches the ‘ImagineEU’ competition for secondary school students in the EU.
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region is stepping up its efforts to reduce food waste
  3. UNOPSUNOPS begins works under EU-funded project to repair schools in Ukraine
  4. Georgia Ministry of Foreign AffairsGeorgia effectively prevents sanctions evasion against Russia – confirm EU, UK, USA
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersGlobal interest in the new Nordic Nutrition Recommendations – here are the speakers for the launch
  6. Nordic Council of Ministers20 June: Launch of the new Nordic Nutrition Recommendations

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us