British Prime Minister Theresa May is coming to Brussels Monday for crucial talks on the state of Brexit negotiations, with the outcome poised to set the agenda for the departure terms between Britain and the European Union.
May will be meeting with both EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and EU Council President Donald Tusk during a diplomatic blitz, hoping to make enough progress on how much Britain has to pay, Irish border conditions and the rights of citizens in each other’s nations for the negotiations to reach the next stage and include future trade relations.
A British official, who refused to be identified in line with government policy, said overnight there were “plenty of discussions still to go” and instead of an initial Monday deadline for a breakthrough, the official called the talks now “an important staging post.”
EU top Brexit officials will also be huddling among themselves looking how to get more concessions from Britain specifically on citizens’ rights and the Irish border.
Britain is set to leave the EU on March 29, 2019.
The 27 other member states need to declare there is “sufficient progress” on the three issues during their Dec. 14-15 summit before the talks can start including future relations, something which is paramount for hard-pressed Britain.
Yet Monday is still fraught with difficulties. Juncker first meets with Brexit experts from the European Parliament, which will eventually have to endorse any departure deal.
And Manfred Weber, the chief of the EPP Christian democrats, said the largest group in parliament still saw plenty of difficulties ahead.
Weber said in a tweet that even if the issue of the outstanding bill had made major progress, “we are much more concerned about the fact that negotiations are stalled on the protection of EU citizens’ rights & on the Irish case.”