EU Leaders Put Off Special Brexit Summit for Lack of Progress in Talks with UK
The EU 27 is ready to convene a new European Council meeting as soon as there is a breakthrough in the Brexit talks.
The leaders of the EU member states have failed to schedule an extraordinary summit on Brexit, which was expected to be held in November 2018, because of lack of progress in the divorce talks with the UK.
The leaders of the still 28 EU countries met for their regular European Council summit in Brussels on Wednesday.
British Prime Minister Theresa May once again delivered a speech defending her blueprint for Brexit, the Chequers Plan, as she did during the informal summit in Salzburg, Austria, in September, where the plan was not well received.
The October summit of the European Council was originally set as a deadline for striking a Brexit deal by the EU. As it approached, there was the idea to convene a special summit on the issue in November.
Now still with no Brexit deal in sight, the leaders of the EU member states deemed it unnecessary to schedule the meeting in question. The decision was made at a dinner excluding May.
“The 27 leaders note that, despite intensive negotiations, not enough progress has been achieved,” one EU official present at the talks said, as cited by Reuters.
“[The EU leaders] stand ready to convene a European Council, if and when the Union negotiator reports that decisive progress has been made. For now, the 27 are not planning to organize an extraordinary summit on Brexit in November,” the official said.
The EU leaders also expressed full confidence in the Union’s Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier, and reiterated their determination to remain united.
Barnier himself declared that even though a deal with the UK had not been reached for the time being, both sides had work hard.
“We are not there yet. We need much more time and we will continue to work in the next weeks, calmly and patiently,” he added.
After attending May’s speech, European Parliament President Antonio Tajani said May had shown the “will to make headway”, although he had found nothing “substantially new in content”.
“I want to be optimistic because the political message of Mrs. May is a positive political message: we want to achieve an agreement,” Tajani said.
Tajani revealed he had suggested extending the post-Brexit transition period by one year, that is, until the end of 2021.
That would allow more time for hammering out a trade deal between the EU and the UK but at the same time the latter would be have to stick to EU rules for longer even though it will lose any say in them after Brexit becomes a fact on March 29, 2019.
(Banner image: European Council on Twitter)