At last, EU chiefs give green light for talks on post-Brexit trade deal
EU leaders will give the green light next week for Brexit talks about a trade deal with the UK, it emerged last night.
The breakthrough follows pleas by Brexit Secretary David Davis and EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier.
They want European political chiefs to end the ‘disturbing’ stalemate in Brexit talks by loosening their rigid rules.
In a boost to Britain, the bloc’s leaders will finally start drawing up plans for a future trading relationship with Britain.
Theresa May has repeatedly said that the UK will refrain from finalising the ‘divorce bill’ unless Brussels opens up talks.
A leaked document last night revealed that the EU is finally willing to make the move at a European Council summit next week. The document – draft conclusions for next week’s summit composed by European Council president Donald Tusk – states that officials will allow Mr Barnier and his team to start ‘internal preparatory discussions’ on a post-Brexit transition period and trading relationship.
While falling short of the full trade talks with Britain that Downing Street previously hoped would be opened, the development will be seen as a breakthrough in London.
Mr Davis and Mr Barnier yesterday separately called for EU leaders to accept concessions made by the Prime Minister and show leeway in order for trade talks to begin. After the latest round of Brexit talks ended frustratingly for both sides, Mr Davis said changing the scope of talks was now ‘in the interests of Europe and the UK’.
Unusually, his call was echoed by his EU counterpart, who bemoaned the state of ‘deadlock’ in what British officials described as ‘an elegant cry for help’.
In a message aimed at Germany and France, Mr Barnier said that a breakthrough is ‘within our grasp’ if the EU’s leading powers show the ‘political will’.
But he also criticised the Government’s ‘very disturbing’ refusal to pay a £90billion divorce bill. Both Berlin and Paris have insisted that Mrs May must offer more rigid guarantees that the UK will pay off a share of the EU’s debt as part of its divorce bill before discussing a future deal.