monday, 10 september of 2018


EU leaders expected to announce extraordinary Brexit summit for November

Meeting in Salzburg next week likely to give Michel Barnier fresh impetus for deal with UK

EU leaders are expected to announce during a meeting in Salzburg next week that an extraordinary Brexit summit will take place in November, as they give Michel Barnier extra encouragement to strike a deal with the British prime minister.

Discussions on the state of play in the talks will take place over a two-hour lunch at an informal summit in Austria, at which leaders are likely to instruct the EU’s chief negotiator to work with the best of Theresa May’s Chequers proposals.

The EU27 will insist there needs to be resolution on the issue of avoiding a hard border on the island of Ireland by the time of a leaders’ summit in October in order for a deal to be possible.

However, the special summit – likely to be held on 13 November – would then allow EU heads of state and government to wrap up the terms of a political declaration on a future deal on trade, security, aviation and fisheries, among other issues.

EU officials and diplomats confirmed that such an announcement was expected although the plan was yet to be confirmed.

Spokesmen for the European council and European commission declined to comment.

On Monday, the pound jumped in value as Barnier said a deal with the UK was "realistic" and "possible" within eight weeks, as he made a visit to Bled, in Slovenia. Such a timetable would take the talks into November.

A report in the Financial Times (£) suggested supplementary guidelines – the formal documents produced by the leaders to instruct Barnier – could also be under discussion in Salzburg.

If approved, they would then be adopted at the meeting in October, the paper said. The FT quoted a senior EU diplomat as suggesting the new instructions would "serve as a sort of mandate to do the deal".

Both EU and UK sources said the likelihood at this stage of such a formal move had been overblown.

Senior diplomats representing the member states in the negotiations said that while there would be warm words at Salzburg, there were no plans as yet to offer up a new set of guidelines to Barnier, or for them to be discussed by the leaders.

EU sources noted that the heads of state and government had stuck with the same principles on the need to avoid "cherrypicking" from full EU membership since the start of the talks.

It is understood the EU instead wants to highlight the need for movement on the Irish border issue, and the lack of time available, while giving May something to show for her efforts before the Conservative party conference.

By scheduling an extraordinary summit, one EU official said the message would be sent that time was too short to have everything in place by October, given the slow progress on the Irish border and other outstanding issues, such as geographical indications protecting food and drink products.

It would also indicate, however, the determination of EU leaders to take ownership of the final political declaration, sources said, which the EU insists will be unprecedented in its range.

The British government is said to have been opposed to a November summit, fearing it would allow the negotiation timetable to slip.
(Published by The Guardian, September 10,2018)

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