The Latest: Merkel says May’s Brexit effort still not enough

October 19, 2017

German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks during a media conference at an EU summit in Brussels on Friday, Oct. 20, 2017. EU leaders told British Prime Minister Theresa May on Thursday to match her goodwill pledges to boost Brexit negotiations with concrete proposals if she really wants to start discussing a future trade deal with the EU by December. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)

BRUSSELS (AP) — The Latest on the Brexit talks between the European Union and the U.K. (all times local):

1 a.m.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel says British Prime Minister Theresa May is making more of an effort with EU partners toward a Brexit deal but it’s still “not enough.”

After the first day of an EU summit in Brussels, Merkel told reporters early Friday that May reported to other European leaders about Britain’s plans to leave the EU.

Merkel also stressed progress that has been made, saying, “despite what the British press says, this is a process that is moving ahead step by step.”

May used a dinner at a Brussels summit of the 28-nation bloc to push her call for urgency on trade talks and her promise to treat EU residents well once Britain leaves the EU. EU officials have become increasingly impatient about a lack of detailed plans from Britain.


4:10 p.m.

Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar says he thinks that Brexit talks can be broadened out to include future relations in December but only if Britain comes up with more detailed negotiating proposals.

Varadkar said Thursday that “it’s not enough to say that you don’t want certain outcomes, you need to explain them.”

He said Britain is always saying it wants the closest possible relations with the EU but has so far failed to spell out its vision.

Varadkar said: “we already have the closest possible relationship. It’s called the European Union.”

He said that “if the United Kingdom is leaving the European Union it’s incumbent upon them to put forward detailed proposals.”


3:55 p.m.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said it should be a priority for Britain to come up with a clear proposal on the bill they will have to pay when they leave the European Union in 2019.

Rutte said it was the key to progressing, as Britain desperately wants, to the next phase of Brexit talks about the future trade and security relationship.

When he had a phone call with his counterpart Theresa May last week Rutte said he’d told her: ”‘Listen, we need more clarity specifically about the bill.’”

Only if there is clarity on the bill is there “a chance for the statements today and tomorrow to be leaning more towards the British,” Rutte said as he walked into the summit.

Rutte said he would prefer to be offered a definite sum, with estimates varying from 20 billion euros to three times as much. “I’d prefer a sum, so we can negotiate about it. But if this is asking too much, then at least have a proposal how to get to a sum. But even that, she hasn’t been able to produce. ”


3:35 p.m.

The former head of Britain’s MI6 intelligence agency says Brexit could leave the country “poorer and weaker” and with less global influence.

John Sawers says leaving the European Union is likely to hurt the economy, and “our influence will diminish” as a result.

He told a House of Lords Committee on Thursday that it could take years for Britain to recover its former position “and demonstrate a new dynamism.”

He said Britain would have to spend more on diplomacy, defense and intelligence “if we want to have an influence in the world of the sort we have had over the last 30 or 40 years.”

He also suggested there is a chance Brexit won’t happen, saying leaving the EU would affect Britain’s foreign policy “assuming it goes ahead.”

Sawers headed MI6, Britain’s overseas intelligence service, between 2009 and 2014.


2:55 p.m.

French President Emmanuel Macron is insisting on the importance of a united front in negotiations with British Prime Minister Theresa May over Britain’s departure from the EU.

Macron arrived at an EU summit in Brussels on Thursday saying the summit will be marked by “very strong unity in the discussion on Brexit.”

He said that the remaining 27 EU members stand behind “one single negotiator” — EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier.

Britain’s prime minister came to the summit calling for urgent progress on what to do with EU citizens living in Britain and British citizens living in the rest of the EU after Britain leaves in 2019.

Macron also said he’s “very happy” to counter isolationist tendencies in France and remind the world of the “French attachment to the European flag.”


2:50 p.m.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel says that the Brexit negotiations have made insufficient progress so far to go to the next phase and tackle future relations between the EU and Britain, but was heartened by recent progress.

Despite a better outlook over the past weeks, the negotiations “are not enough to start the second phase of negotiations”

She added, however, that she was upbeat about the possibility “to get to the second phase in December.”

Initially, Britain had hoped to move to the second phase after the two-day summit starting Thursday, but negotiations have often stalled over the past months.


2:10 p.m.

British Prime Minister Theresa May is coming into a European Union summit with a message of “urgency” to make progress on the stalled exit negotiations with the bloc.

May entered the summit headquarters Thursday saying that Britain will be “looking at setting out ambitious plans for the weeks ahead.”

May particularly mentioned she wanted to see “an urgency in reaching an agreement on citizens’ rights” for EU people living in Britain and Britons residing on the continent.

Citizens’ rights is one of three issues that the EU wants to see “sufficient progress” in before the talks can move to include future trade relations, which Britain wants to start as soon as possible. The other initial issues are the border situation between the U.K. and the EU on the island of Ireland and the exit payment Britain will have to make.


12:10 p.m.

Britain’s opposition Labour Party leader, Jeremy Corbyn, is meeting senior European Union figures in Brussels to urge progress in Brexit talks — and scold Prime Minister Theresa May’s government for the lack of movement.

Corbyn, whose influence has been bolstered by a strong showing in June’s British election, is meeting Thursday with EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier, European Parliament President Antonio Tajani and several national leaders.

The Labour Party wants May’s Conservative government to rule out walking away from divorce talks without a deal. Corbyn says “a no-deal Brexit would be a bad deal for Britain, threatening jobs and living standards. It would also harm our European neighbors.”

The Labour Party has been criticized for keeping its own position on Brexit vague. Corbyn says it’s vital that Britain retain tariff-free access to the EU single market, but it’s unclear how that can be achieved.


11:35 a.m.

Some European Union citizens in Britain are unimpressed with Prime Minister Theresa May’s promise they are welcome to stay after Brexit.

May has released an open letter to the 3 million EU nationals in the U.K., saying Britain and the bloc are within “touching distance” of a deal on citizens’ rights. She says registering for permanent residence will be simple and inexpensive, and a group of EU nationals will help oversee the process.

She denies treating EU citizens — and 1 million Britons in other EU countries — as bargaining chips.

The 3 Million, a lobby group for EU nationals in Britain, says the government has ignored its views, particularly concerns about whether people will be able to bring their families to live with them in the U.K.

The group’s co-founder, Nicolas Hatton, says “the government can do better than this letter.”


11:20 a.m.

Hard-core euroskeptics in Britain’s Parliament are urging Prime Minister Theresa May to walk away from European Union divorce talks unless the bloc starts discussing trade.

A group of lawmakers and peers including former Treasury chief Nigel Lawson and ex-Environment Secretary Owen Paterson accuses the EU of “deliberately deferring discussions” about the post-Brexit relationship.

In a letter released Thursday, the lobby group Leave Means Leave says that if there is no breakthrough this week May should declare unilaterally that Britain will leave the bloc without a deal in March 2019 and revert to World Trade Organization rules to trade with the EU.

May is meeting the other 27 EU leaders in Brussels on Thursday. Britain wants to start talking about future relations, but the EU 27 are likely to say there has not been sufficient progress on divorce terms.

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