EU's Tusk gives May fortnight to decide on terms of Brexit payment

EU's Tusk gives May fortnight to decide on terms of Brexit payment

May told reporters Friday that Britain intends to live up to its commitments to its European partners, even as talks remain deadlocked over the divorce bill, Irish borders and the rights of citizens hit by Brexit.

Speaking after talks with Mrs May, he said Brussels has finished the internal work required to green light trade talks at the forthcoming European Council summit on 14-15 December.

For the talks to proceed, European leaders need to be of the view that "sufficient progress" has been made on three divorce issues - the exit bill, citizens' rights and the Irish border.

After holding talks with Mrs May on the margins of a jobs summit in Sweden, Mr Tusk said he wanted to see further progress if he was to recommend to European Union leaders at their next meeting on 14 December to give the green light to the next phase of talks.

In this meeting with the former, she is expected to be told that while preparations are being made internally for trade talks, it will not be a given that the negotiations will progress. "I am very cautious but optimistic". Mr Davis today singled out France and Germany as not being as enthusiastic as the other 25 nations to do a deal, having last night warned against putting "politics before prosperity" and saying Theresa May had already "explained a bold ambition for the form of our future relationship".

Earlier on Friday, Ireland's foreign minister said "serious issues" concerning the UK-Irish border after Brexit mean trade talks should be delayed and a five-year transition period implemented.

Varadkar added: "We want that written down in practical terms in the conclusions of phase one".

Mr Varadkar added: "It's 18 months since the referendum, it's 10 years since people who wanted a referendum started agitating for one. Sometimes it doesn't seem like they've thought all of this through".

The heating-up of rhetoric comes as the PM faces further pressure back in Britain to scrap legislation enshrining the date and time of Brexit in law.

Brexit negotiations are bogged down over preliminary issues, and the EU's chief Brexit negotiator has warned that progress must be made by November 24 to have any hope of broadening the talks this year.

Asked whether Mrs May needed to put more money on the table soon to pave the way for trade talks, Swedish PM Stefan Lovren said Britain "needs to clarify what they mean by their financial responsibility", while Austrian leader Christian Kern said the United Kingdom must "speed up and find a more realistic stance".

A week ago Michel Barnier, the EU's chief Brexit negotiator, spelled out a deadline of two weeks for the United Kingdom to make concessions or clarifications on its position before trade talks were postponed by another three to four months.

Mr Tusk has set a deadline for the start of December for Britain to make progress on the divorce bill and the Irish border.

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