International

EU leaders continue to pressure on UK deal amid rumours of earlier Brexit summit

Irene Kostaki - New Europe

An evening meeting on Wednesday of EU leaders could be a critical moment in both Brussels and the UK’s efforts to end the deadlock in the ongoing Brexit negotiations as, according to a French official privy to the agenda of the meeting, a Brexit Summit could be announced earlier than the rumoured November 17-18 date that was first floated during a September summit in Salzburg, Austria.

The November dates remain on the table but have not been finalised. An earlier summit would likely tilt in favour of UK Prime Minister Theresa May and give her more time to work a deal through Britain’s parliamentary procedures, which require a significant amount of time to finalise the ratification of any agreement that may be signed.

According to the current assessment, the next milestone for the British administration would be the budget vote on October 29. A summit could, theoretically, be held immediately after that date provided constructive negotiations resume just after Wednesday’s meeting, but not before.

The lack of progress at the weekend despite a last-minute visit by UK Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab’swith his European counterpart, Michel Barnier, did not allow the EU’s diplomatic chiefs to discuss the basis of a potential political declaration. The agenda and tone of Wednesday’s meeting will remain the same, though there was hope that European Parliament President Antonio Tajani and May would have more to discuss if a divorce agreement was already on the table.

Talks will not collapse

Thus far, according to sources with knowledge of the talks, there is no indication that the Brexit talks will collapse.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Junckeris expected to brief the EU-27 on the EU executive’s preparations for a so-called ‘no-deal’ scenario. in the event that Brussels and London fail to agree on a post-Brexit framework. According to a senior EU official, the European Commission had extra proposals ready to be released but opted to hold them back due to the positive progress of the talks ahead of last weekend’s anticipated breakthrough.

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