On Friday, the President of the European Council Donald Tusk said it was “possible” the EU and the UK would reach an agreement on the three main Brexit points before the EU Summit in December. However, it remained a “huge task”. An agreement would allow talks to move forward onto trade negotiations.
“Possible to have sufficient progress (on the three main points) in Brexit negotiations by the European Council summit in December”, Mr Tusk wrote on Twitter after meeting the British Prime Minister Theresa May in Brussels.
“But it remains a huge task”, he warned. “We have to see the UK progress with us on all subjects, including Ireland, within 10 days”, Mr Tusk said. He is the current President of the European Council, which is made up of the leaders of the 28 EU countries. This ten day delay coincides with a meeting between Mrs May and the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, on the 4th of December.
European officials have been calling on the British Prime Minister to be more flexible if she wants negotiations to move forward and onto the UK’s future relationship with the EU. It was hoped they could talk about this during the summit on the 14th and 15th of December. The trade relationship is especially important.
The 27 other EU member states want to reach an agreement about the “divorce bill” the UK will pay when it leaves the EU, the right of citizens after Brexit, and the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Only then will they agree to discuss trade, which has been called the “second phase” of the negotiations.
After her meeting with Mr Tusk on Friday, Theresa May said the “atmosphere was very positive”. “There are still problems surrounding the different issues we are negotiating and they have to be dealt with, but there was a very positive atmosphere during the discussions. There is a sincere feeling of wanting to progress together”, she said when leaving Brussels after a European summit with the former USSR.