Here is how EU’s leaders plan on breaking the deadlock in the Brexit negotiations.
Leaders from the European Union may extend an olive branch to British Prime Minister Theresa May in the deadlocked Brexit negotiations next week. The move could come as the EU ramps up its own internal preparations for a transition to having a new relationship with Britain.
Going by the conclusions of the draft that has been submitted by summit chair Donald Tusk to 27 EU governments, Brussels has firmly rejected the opening of free trade talks at this juncture. However, it has left a small opening for future maneuverability, which could provide the beleaguered British prime minister hope, that were she to up her offers on divorce terms, the EU will be ready to negotiate free trade agreements, almost right away.
Frayed nerves have led to loose threats of walking out of Brexit negotiations without a deal, which saw the pound touch a new low with Michel Barnier, EU’s negotiator, saying the new round of talks this week had ended in continued deadlock over Briain’s refusal to clarify its due to the EU as its leaves the bloc.
The pound however got a helping hand from the EU, when the EU’s leaders said they are willing to go the extra mile in order to help Britain avoid a “hard Brexit” by probably agreeing to include it in its single market for a couple of years more, said diplomats,
The draft of conclusions will be be issued by leaders of the 27 EU governments next Friday, once the wording in it is agreed by all. Envoys from heavyweight nations, including France and Germany, had objected to Barnier’s suggestion last week, that the EU should start working on transition plans.
As per a senior EU official who is closely involved in the negotiations, Brussels does not expect any major change to the text of the summit.
Going by the diplomat from a big country, the content of the text will be discussed by national envoys in Brussels on Friday.
LACK OF PROGRESS
The first draft of the text, confirms what Barnier and others have been saying: there is a lack of “sufficient progress” on three key pillars of the withdrawal treaty. Unless these are in place it would be premature to open talks on free trade.
However, in an effort aimed at deflecting accusations by Britain on EU’s intransigence, leaders are eyeing progress on three main issues:
1. The rights of 3 million EU citizens who live in Britain;
2. Preserving the peace in Northern Ireland from the effect of a new border on the island
3. Settling Britain’s outstanding dues as it exists the European Union.
These 3 main issues are set to be reassessed at the next summit in mid-December.
Once these burrs are ironed out, talks will hover around post-Brexit future. At this juncture, the EU will begin preparing for a transition.
“The European Council invites the Council (Article 50) together with the Union negotiator to start internal preparatory discussions,” reads the draft.
As per another EU official, this would avoid weeks of delay in launching a new phase by 2018, with business leaders saying this is vital as they can then make informed investment decisions in 2018 for a post-Brexit scenario.
Without getting a good idea, by early 2018, of what a transition period will look like, international businesses in Britain are likely to “vote with their feet” fearing a “hard Brexit”.
May’s uncertain leadership has also compounded the problem. Her party and hardliners have demanded that she resists EU demands and be ready to walk out with no deal. This stance has left Europeans wondering where the negotiations are headed.
As a result, EU leaders are willing to reinforce her position in office.
The deadlock in the talks stem over Britain’s due to the EU which runs into tens of billions of euros.
Although Britain has vaguely said it would honor its commitments to EU, Barnier pointed out saying London has not spelled the amount it was ready to pay.
“There was no negotiation on this, but we did have technical discussions which were useful,” said Barnier. “We are, therefore, at a deadlock on this question. This is extremely worrying for European taxpayers and those who benefit from EU policies.”
He went on to add, nevertheless “I am still convinced that, with political will, decisive progress is within reach in the coming two months. With David Davis, we will organize several negotiating meetings between now and the end of the year.”