EU's Tusk sees next Brexit step this year

China Daily | Updated: 2017-10-12 07:49

EU's Tusk sees next Brexit step this year

President of the European Council Donald Tusk listens at a news conference during the European Union Tallinn Digital Summit in Tallinn, Estonia, September 29, 2017. [Photo/Agencies]

BRUSSELS - European Union Council President Donald Tusk said Brexit negotiations will not move to the next stage before December at the earliest, not later this month, as Britain was hoping.

Tusk bemoaned on Tuesday the slow pace of negotiations on the divorce proceedings with London and said it was still far too early to move to the next phase of planning a new trade relationship because the initial breakup talks have yet to reach "sufficient progress".

"We hear from London that the UK government is preparing for a 'no deal' scenario," Tusk told EU regional leaders in Brussels. "The EU is not working on such a scenario. We are negotiating in good faith, and we still hope that the so-called 'sufficient progress' will be possible by December.

"However, if it turns out that the talks continue at a slow pace, and that 'sufficient progress' hasn't been reached, then - together with our UK friends - we will have to think about where we are heading."

EU's Tusk sees next Brexit step this year

Negotiators are holding a fifth round of talks on divorce proceedings, centered on the rights of citizens in each other's nations once the breakup is complete, the border between Ireland and the United Kingdom and the financial commitments Britain will have to pay.

As a compromise on those issues remains elusive, both sides have lobbed the proverbial ball in each other's court to take the initiative. On Monday, British Prime Minister Theresa May insisted "the ball is in their court".

When asked about it following his lunch with his British counterpart David Davis, EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier turned toward journalists chasing him and said, with pointing finger: "Brexit is not a game. Don't forget it."

More than a year has passed since Britain voted to leave the EU, and six months since Britain triggered the two-year countdown to its EU exit.

AP - Reuters

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