The Latest: May expects Brexit talks progress by December
LONDON (AP) — The Latest on Britain’s talks to leave the European Union (all times local):
British Prime Minister Theresa May says she has “a degree of confidence” that Brexit talks will be able to move to their decisive second phase by December.
Britain wants to start discussing trade and future relations with the bloc. But EU leaders say there has not yet been sufficient progress on divorce terms, including the size of the bill Britain must pay to settle its commitments to the bloc.
May has said Britain will pay what it owes but the amount Britain has suggested, around 20 billion euros ($24 billion), falls far short of the EU estimate of 60 billion euros ($70 billion or more).
May told lawmakers on Monday that “we are going through our potential commitments line by line.”
She said she had “a degree of confidence will are going to get to a point of sufficient progress by December,” when EU leaders meet again.
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has brushed aside media reports that British Prime Minister Theresa May looked exhausted and was desperate for EU help at a Brexit meeting last week.
Speaking at the Institute of Political Studies in Strasbourg, France, Juncker said Monday that “it’s always like that” with the media.
He said: “It was a good meeting. She was neither tired nor beaten. She did her thing, and I did mine too.”
Juncker added: “We didn’t find an agreement because first you have to resolve the problem concerning British citizens in Europe and continental European citizens in Britain.”
A report in the German Sunday newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung claimed that May was “begging for help” from the other 27 EU leaders during the Brussels dinner a week ago.
A high level European Union official denies that the EU Commission leaked an unfavorable account of last week’s dinner where British Prime Minister Theresa May sought to rally EU support for her views on the Brexit negotiations.
EU Commission Cabinet chief Martin Selmayr on Monday denied an account of the dinner between May and EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker as it appeared in the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung. It claimed that May was “begging for help” from the other 27 EU leaders.
He also denied the Commission or Juncker had leaked the story, as some in Britain claimed, or that what was in it was true. The German newspaper account said Juncker had told colleagues that “May’s facial expressions and her appearance spoke volumes.”
Selmayr wrote on Twitter: “I deny that 1/we leaked this; 2/Juncker ever said this; 3/we are punitive on Brexit.” He said the leak was an attempt to undermine the Brexit talks.
A few months ago, the same paper had also leaked an account of a meeting between Juncker and May and British critics also sought to pinpoint Selmayr as the source of the leak.
Five of Britain’s biggest business groups are calling on the government to quickly agree to a transition period of at least two years following the country’s exit from the European Union to provide certainty about regulatory and trade rules as companies make critical decisions for jobs and investment.
The draft letter addressed to Brexit Secretary David Davis obtained by Sky News says the economic relationship between Britain and the EU should be “as close as possible to the status quo” during the transition.
Prime Minister Theresa May has requested a two-year transition period in which Britain and the EU trade on terms that are largely similar to current arrangements, but EU leaders have demanded more concessions on a divorce payment before talks on trade and the transition can move forward.