Posts Tagged ‘Macron’

EU seems to break Brexit deadlock — Theresa May’s Government could collapse if negotiations remain deadlocked

October 21, 2017

The Telegraph

British Prime Minister Theresa May, left, meets with European Council President Donald Tusk during an EU summit

British Prime Minister Theresa May, left, meets with European Council President Donald Tusk during EU summit CREDIT: OLIVIER HOSLET 

EU leaders softened their stance significantly on Brexit talks yesterday amid fears in Brussels that Theresa May’s Government could collapse if negotiations remain deadlocked.

Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, said she was now in “absolutely no doubt” that the EU and the UK could make a success of negotiations as she accepted for the first time that both sides must make concessions.

Donald Tusk, the European Council president, said talk of deadlock had been “exaggerated”, while Jean-Claude Juncker, the European Commission president, said he was determined to “have a fair deal” with the UK.

However, Emmanuel Macron, the French president, took a much firmer line by saying that Mrs May’s offer of €20 billion to settle the Brexit bill was “not halfway there”, while Mrs May failed to rule out paying as much as €60 billion as a final settlement.

Read the rest (Paywall):

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/10/20/eu-breaks-brexit-deadlock-save-theresa-may-amid-fears-could/

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EU leaders struggle to break through Brexit talks impasse

October 21, 2017
British Prime Minister Theresa May waits for the arrival of European Council President Donald Tusk prior to a bilateral meeting with European Council President Donald Tusk during an EU summit in Brussels on Friday, Oct. 20, 2017. European Union leaders gathered Friday to weigh progress in negotiations on Britain’s departure from their club as they look for new ways to speed up the painfully slow moving process. AP/Geert Vanden Wijngaert, Pool

BRUSSELS — Leaders of Britain and the 27 other European Union members agreed Friday that much remains to be done in Brexit talks amid deep divisions about the terms of their breakup, particularly on how much London should pay in the divorce.

While EU President Donald Tusk said that “reports of a deadlock between the European Union and the United Kingdom have been exaggerated,” many other leaders were far less upbeat as a two-day summit in Brussels wrapped up.

French President Emmanuel Macron said “there is a lot of work left to do” in the highly complex talks on Britain’s exit from the bloc, which will take place on March 29, 2019.

“We have not gone even halfway down the road,” Macron told reporters.

British Prime Minister Theresa May urged her EU counterparts to bring new momentum to the talks, even as an interim goal was missed to widen the talks from the more immediate divorce issues to future EU-U.K. relations and trade arrangements after Britain leaves.

The aim is now to widen the talks in mid-December, but doubt remains over whether that deadline can be met.

“I am ambitious and positive for Britain’s future and for these negotiations. But I know we still have some way to go,” May said, after informal breakfast talks with the other leaders.

Despite calls from both sides to accelerate the negotiations, they remain bogged down on the terms of divorce, which the EU insists must be finalized before talks move onto trade. The main divorce issues include the rights of citizens affected by Brexit, the status of the Ireland-Northern Ireland border and the exact sum of Britain’s exit bill — which the EU estimates at 60-100 billion euros ($70-120 billion), compared with a possible 20 billion euro offer from London.

May has promised to pay into the EU budget until 2020, but has not committed her country to future financial obligations or specified what these would be.

She said her government is now going through this “line by line.”

To try to break the deadlock, May’s EU partners agreed Friday to begin discussing among themselves what their joint position should be on future relations and trade. That would get them ready to tackle the issue at their next summit on Dec. 14-15, provided they find the divorce terms are settled, and shows the British a measure of goodwill.

May argues that the divorce terms and future relations are closely interlinked and cannot therefore be negotiated separately. She acknowledged Friday that much remains to be done on some of the divorce issues before the European Union sees “enough progress” to move on.

She said both sides were within “touching distance” on citizens’ rights but still had more work to do on settling the border between EU member country Ireland and Northern Ireland, which is part of the U.K., and agreeing on the Brexit bill.

Ireland’s leader, Leo Varadkar, praised May for what he called her “very positive language” but said “we’re a long way” from getting to the next step.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the way things proceed next depend largely on the British government.

“We would hope that we would be ready in December to initiate phase two,” Merkel said, but added: “This depends to a large extent on Britain preparing progress to such an extent that we can call it sufficient. The topic of financial commitment is of course the dominating issue in that regard.”

Several officials also say that changes to the format of the negotiations are being considered. At the moment, Brexit negotiators meet roughly every three weeks for four days, bringing the media spotlight on the process and raising expectations about what can be achieved. The idea would be to do away with rounds and hold talks on a rolling basis.

Reflecting those concerns, Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite, said that “we all — not only the U.K. but us also — (must) go for real negotiations and not just negotiating in the media by rhetoric.”

She said that an address May made to the EU leaders Thursday night appeared to be made up of extracts from a previous speech and said that it is now time to move “from words to real deeds.”

Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat was more upbeat. He praised May’s address as her “best performance yet.”

“It conveyed a warm, candid and sincere view that she wants progress to be made,” Muscat said.

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Raf Casert and Angela Charlton contributed to this report.

Macron says work on Brexit not even halfway done

October 20, 2017

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – French President Emmanuel Macron said on Friday that work on settling Britain’s financial obligations to the EU when it leaves was not even halfway done.

He said more than half the work remained to be completed on the crucial issue of Britain’s exit bill and that discussions could not move to the next phase on the future relationship until the three divorce issues of citizens’ rights, the Irish border and financial settlement have been settled.

“A lot is in the hands of Theresa May,” Macron said in a news conference at the end of an EU summit.

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British Prime Minister Theresa May, center, speaks with French President Emmanuel Macron, right, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, left, during a round table meeting at an EU summit in Brussels on Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017. British Prime Minister Theresa May headed to a European Union summit Thursday with a pledge to treat EU residents well once Britain leaves the bloc. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)

Reporting by Julia Fioretti; editing by Robert-Jan Bartunek

Merkel sends positive signal to May on Brexit talks

October 20, 2017

Reuters

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – German Chancellor Angela Merkel, in a markedly positive response on Friday to an EU summit appeal by Prime Minister Theresa May for help with Brexit, said talks with Britain were moving forward and were unlikely to break down.

Macron, May and Merkel

May shares a joke with Macron and Merkel on Day 1 (Thursday)

Merkel made her comments at the end of the first day of a European Union summit and after May had appealed to her fellow leaders to help her silence critics at home and break a deadlock in the talks.

“In contrast to how it is portrayed in the British press, my impression is that these talks are moving forward step by step,” Merkel told a late-night news conference, dismissing as “absurd” suggestions in Britain that the talks should be broken off.

“I have absolutely no doubts that if we are all focused … that we can get a good result. From my side there are no indications at all that we won’t succeed,” she said.

Arriving for the second day, others emphasized the positive too: Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat called May’s speech her “best performance yet” and “a warm, candid and sincere appeal”. Ireland’s Leo Varadkar said it was “very strong”.

But others complained they had heard little new of substance and rejected May’s repetition of London’s view that demands for money from Brussels have “no legal framework”. Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern said “rhetorical progress” needed to be followed by “tangible conclusions”.

After May leaves the summit on Friday, the other 27 leaders are expected to rule that there has not been sufficient progress to push the talks forward but will call on their staff to prepare for talks on a transition period that would smooth Britain’s exit in 2019.

May made no comment as she arrived for a breakfast meeting with summit chair Donald Tusk. Near midnight, speaking at the end of a dinner of butternut squash gnocchi and pheasant, she had sought to calm fears Britain would use its departure in March 2019 to undercut the EU economy by lowering standards.

She appealed to EU leaders to respond in kind to her efforts to break the Brexit stalemate, making clear she was disappointed at their plan to announce on Friday that talks have not yet made enough progress to move on to a discussion of future trade ties.

The EU is seeking a clearer commitment from Britain that it will settle financial obligations linked to its exit. Leaders will on Friday set a target of December for London to improve its divorce settlement offer.

Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May and European Council President Donald Tusk pose before a bilateral meeting at a European Union leaders summit in Brussels, Belgium October 20, 2017. REUTERS/Olivier Hoslet/Pool

But they will also make a gesture by launching internal preparations for the next phase of the negotiations.

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In choreography that contrasted with images of May standing isolated in Brussels at previous summits, Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron were filmed by television cameras engaging the British prime minister in an animated conversation at the start of the summit.

Merkel said the three had been discussing the need to safeguard the Iran nuclear deal after U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision last week to “decertify” it.

It was a response May was looking for after explaining over dinner the “difficult political background” she faces if she returns home empty-handed and how she had worked hard to get the talks back on track after realizing their perilous state at the end of the summer.

“I took stock, listened to what the people in the UK were saying and what my friends and partners in Europe were saying and I made a step forward,” she was quoted as saying by a British official, referring to a speech she made in Florence on Sept. 22.

There was no discussion after May spoke, according to an EU diplomat. Tusk said only that the leaders took note of her comments.

Weakened after losing her Conservatives’ majority in a June election and by failing to rally support at a party conference, May needs to keep the talks on the road to silence the voices calling for her to walk away from the negotiations.

Unwilling now to increase her offer on the divorce bill, May instead proposed more moves to protect the rights of EU citizens in Britain — one of three issues the bloc says must be settled before moving to discuss a future trading relationship.

“There is increasingly a sense that we must work together to get to an outcome we can stand behind and defend to our people,” May told the other leaders, according to the British official.

Additional reporting by Gabriela Baczynska, Jan Strupczewski and Alastair Macdonald; Editing by Alastair Macdonald and Catherine Evans

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 (Day 1)

See also:

EU SUMMIT 2017: Theresa May faces Tusk as Juncker says there will be NO Brexit ‘miracle’

http://www.express.co.uk/news/politics/868337/EU-summit-2017-live-updates-theresa-may-juncker-angela-merkel-brexit

May and Tusk have met for a 15 minute meeting EP

May and Tusk have met for a 15 minute meeting

Angela Merkel EBS

Merkel arrives in Brussels for the second day of talks

Theresa May at European Council admits for the first time that Brexit negotiations have been in ‘difficulty’ — Angela Merkel says the UK has not done enough

October 20, 2017

PM makes urgent plea to leaders over dinner

By Jon Stone Brussels
The Independent

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Theresa May has admitted for the first time that Brexit negotiations have hit “difficulty” as she beseeched European leaders to give her a deal she can sell to the British people.

The Prime Minister explicitly conceded last night that talks were in trouble ahead of her key intervention in Florence two weeks ago, prompting her to try and get negotiations back on track.

She told Angela Merkel, Emmanuel Macron and other EU leaders that there is now the “urgent” need for progress with the threat of the UK crashing out of the EU without a deal looming.

Speaking on Thursday evening at a working dinner with other heads of government in Brussels, Ms May said that at the end of the summer she “recognised the difficulty the process was in”.

“I took stock, listened to what the people in the UK were saying, and what my friends and partners in Europe were saying, and I made a step forward,” she said.

 Image result for Theresa May ,, october 20, 2017, photos

“There is increasingly a sense that we must work together to get to an outcome we can stand behind and defend to our people,” she said, adding that when the 27 remaining member states convene tomorrow to discuss Brexit in private “the clear and urgent imperative must be that the dynamic you create enables us to move forward together”.

The PM and world leaders dined on gnocchi and pheasant supreme at the dinner, followed by fresh pineapple.

European Commission chief negotiator Michel Barnier has repeatedly said he is “worried” about “deadlock” in negotiations, but the line from the UK government has always been significantly more optimistic, stressing “concrete progress”.

The PM’s intervention comes as the European Council appears set to refuse to allow the UK to move to trade and future relationship talks – which it has said can only start once “sufficient progress” has been made on settling the divorce bill, Northern Ireland border, and EU citizens’ rights.

The 27 remaining EU leaders will meet tomorrow to discuss Brexit without Ms May, whose address to dinner was not followed by any discussion or debate.

Theresa May: No Brexit breakthrough on the cards

They are expected to tell Britain to come back in December once more progress has been made for another assessment of whether it is ready for trade talks.

Senior UK government officials also admitted that the prime minister was “working against a difficult political backdrop” at home – an apparent reference to Tory MPs who were pushing her for a no deal.

Arriving at the summit on Thursday Angela Merkel said she believed there were “encouraging” signs that sufficient progress could be made in December. Ms May said the summit was a time to take stock of the progress that had been made in talks so far.

Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte however told reporters in Brussels that Ms May had to “come up with more clarity on what she means by ‘other commitments’ in her Florence speech”.

“I phoned her last week, and tried to encourage her to do that and so far she hasn‘t,” he said.

Image result for Theresa May ,, october 20, 2017, photos

The Prime Minister’s spokesperson told journalists in Brussels: “The Florence speech intended to create momentum and we achieved that. In all our talks with EU leaders they have been responsive and we hope that will continue.”

Other issues such as forest fires and migration have dominated the first day of European Council discussions, with Britain’s departure not even getting a mention in the first press conference between Jean-Claude Juncker and Donald Tusk after hours of talks.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/brexit-theresa-may-negotiations-difficulties-eu-council-juncker-merkel-macron-a8009971.html

See also:

Theresa May calls for new dynamic for Brexit deal – but Angela Merkel says it’s ‘still not enough’

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/10/19/angela-merkel-points-december-brexit-breakthrough-eu-leaders/

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The Prime Minister has played down hopes of a breakthrough in Brexit negotiations as she arrives at this week’s European Council summit.

On her way into the Justus Lipsius building in Brussels on Thursday the Prime Minister said the summit was an opportunity to “take stock” of progress in talks.

The Independent confirmed yesterday that the PM would have no opportunity for a direct dialogue with EU leaders about leaving the EU at the summit – sticking to the strict framework of negotiations.

The PM said she would be setting out “ambitious plans” for further negotiations in the weeks ahead, and said she wanted to inject a new “urgency” into discussions on the post-Brexit rights of EU citizens living in the UK and Britons on the continent.

It had previously been hoped that the UK would be judged to have made “sufficient progress” in Brexit talks at the summit, so that negotiations could move to trade and transition. The latest indications are that this next phase has been delayed until at least December, however.

The two-day European Council summit comes as Ms May spoke directly to the estimated three million European Union citizens living in Britain, to tell them that she wants them to be able to stay after Brexit and that a deal on their rights are “in touching distance”

Britain’s hopes of getting the green light for trade talks at the European Council meeting in Brussels were dash after a series of top EU figures came out against them. Chief negotiator Michel Barnier, Council President Donald Tusk, European Parliament Brexit Chief Guy Verhofstadt, and European Parliament president Antonio Tajani also said talks had not reached a mature enough stage.

But Ms May is hoping to persuade the leaders of the 27 remaining EU states to at least agree to begin discussions among themselves on the transition to Brexit and the future trade relationship. She will address them in an after-dinner speech on Thursday evening but there will be no discussion or reply from the leaders, a spokesperson for the European Council presidency confirmed.

The other 27 EU leaders will then discuss Brexit in full without Ms May on Friday – sticking to the strict protocol of only conducting negotiations within the framework agreed by the Council.

Arriving in Brussels, Ms May said: “This Council is about taking stock. It is also about looking ahead to how we can tackle the challenges that we all share across Europe.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/brexit-theresa-may-european-council-summit-a8009191.html

Is There a Way To Get Tough on Iran Without Leaving The Nuclear Deal?

October 19, 2017
BY EMILY B. LANDAU
 OCTOBER 19, 2017 15:30
There are important elements in the administration’s new policy that may reverse some of the negative aspects of the JCPOA, and set the stage for pushing back on Iran’s regional provocations.

Getting tough on Iran without leaving the nuclear deal

US PRESIDENT Donald Trump speaks about Iran and the nuclear accord at the White House on Friday. (photo credit:REUTERS)

On October 13, US President Donald Trump announced his decision not to certify the JCPOA, in contrast to his previous two decisions to certify the deal. Instead, he declared, the administration would work with Congress and US global and Middle East allies to address the flaws surrounding the deal, as well as other aspects of Iran’s behavior, widely perceived to be threatening and destabilizing. This position was reached following the administration’s policy review on Iran, underway over the past nine months, and outlines a new approach that began to emerge already with the statement in April 2017 by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson – delivered the day after Trump certified the JCPOA for the first time – which sketched in broad strokes the direction of US policy on Iran.

Perhaps the most notable feature of the new policy is that it covers the entirety of Iran’s behavior that is viewed negatively by the US, beyond the nuclear program: Iran’s missile program, support for terror, and regional aspirations that threaten the national security interests of the US and its allies in the Middle East. In so doing, the administration has ended the approach of the Obama administration that sought to create a divide between the nuclear and regional manifestations of Iran’s conduct, claiming that the nuclear deal “was working,” and that it was never meant to address other issues. In contrast, the Trump administration has emphasized that the JCPOA did not achieve its objective of a non-nuclear Iran, and that the deal is only one component of overall US policy toward Iran. The message is that there is a connection between the different manifestations of Tehran’s nuclear and foreign policies, and that all must be dealt with in tandem in order to confront effectively the threats and regional challenges posed by Iran.

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Also of significance is that Trump signaled that the US administration will no longer refrain from pushing back against Iran’s aggressions and provocations for fear of Iran exiting the nuclear deal. In fact – in a somewhat surprising move – Trump included his own threat of leaving the deal. He stated that if in cooperation with Congress and US allies the administration cannot reach a satisfactory solution to the problems he delineated, he would cancel US participation in the deal. The specific context seems to direct the threat primarily to Congress and US allies in an effort to urge them to work with the administration to amend the deal. However, it is also clearly a message to Iran that the administration is no longer deterred by Iran’s threats of leaving the deal.

What are the main problems that Trump raised, and how will the administration attempt to fix them? The leading problems raised by the president have to do with the regime’s sponsorship of terrorism, continued regional aggression, and use of proxies, and the radical nature of the regime and its Supreme Leader. He mentioned Iran’s ballistic missile program, hostility to the US and Israel, and its threat to navigation in the Gulf. While the opening of Trump’s speech reviewed Iran’s deadly actions since 1979 and was unnecessarily detailed, this might have been aimed to underscore that Iran has targeted the US repeatedly, rendering dealing with Iran a clear US national security interest.

As for the nuclear deal, Trump warned that in a few years Iran will be able to “sprint” to nuclear weapons. What, he asked, is the purpose of a deal that at best only delays Iran’s nuclear plans? He noted multiple violations of the deal, although most points on his list were not violations per se, but rather problems with the deal. In addition to twice exceeding the limit on the stockpile of heavy water, he pointed out that Iran failed to meet US expectations with regard to research and development of advanced centrifuges. To be sure, the precise nature of Iran’s work on advanced centrifuges is an issue that independent analysts can only study from such official statements due to the problematic lack of transparency in IAEA reports since implementation of the deal, and the confidentiality that was granted to deliberations of the Joint Commission (that oversees the JCPOA). Trump also accused Iran of intimidating IAEA inspectors, and highlighted Iran’s repeated statements that it would refuse entry of IAEA inspectors into its military sites. Of particular note was Trump’s mention of suspicions regarding cooperation between Iran and North Korea; he said that he will instruct intelligence agencies to conduct a thorough analysis of these connections.

In dealing with these problems, Trump’s major constraint is lack of leverage to compel Iran to agree to a strengthened nuclear deal. The administration’s hands are tied given that it has partners to the JCPOA that are not on the same page, and that the biting sanctions that had pressured Iran to negotiate in the first place were lifted when implementation of the deal began. Clearly it will be difficult for the US to change matters directly related to the deal without the help of Congress and European allies, and Trump stated repeatedly that he will seek their cooperation.

In Europe there is fierce opposition to Trump’s decision not to certify the deal, and it is questionable whether and to what degree Europe will be willing to cooperate with the US. It is noteworthy, however, that before the speech was delivered, some European leaders – including France’s Macron – signaled a new willingness to address issues outside the JCPOA, in particular Iran’s missile program and regional aggression. Trump hopes they will go along with new sanctions against the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). There is currently no basis for expecting cooperation from Russia and China.

The administration is also pinning hopes on Congress. With decertification, decision making on the JCPOA moves to Congress, and this is where the Trump administration hopes to introduce changes. Tillerson has explained that the administration will not be asking Congress to move to sanctions at this stage, a step that could lead to the collapse of the deal. Rather, the hope is to pass new legislation that will amend the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act (INARA). The White House would like to establish a series of benchmarks that would automatically restore sanctions if Iran crosses one of the red lines – or “trigger points”; these would likely relate to Iran’s missile program and the sunset clauses in the JCPOA.

The area where the administration can most easily move forward on its own relates to its approach to the Iranian regime, particularly the regime’s support for terror and other destabilizing regional activities. This explains the strong emphasis in Trump’s speech – and in the document released in parallel entitled “President Donald J. Trump’s New Strategy on Iran” – on the IRGC, and on the need to confront it squarely for its support of terror, fanning of sectarianism, and perpetuation of regional conflict. Trump announced that he was authorizing the Treasury Department to sanction the IRGC as an entity, and to apply sanctions to its officials, agents, and affiliates.

Overall, there are important elements in the administration’s new policy that have the potential to reverse some of the negative aspects of the JCPOA, and set the stage for pushing back on Iran’s regional provocations and aggression. Much will depend on the ability to cooperate with allies and with Congress in advancing these goals. Tillerson’s clarifications were important in explaining that contrary to much media analysis, Trump is not seeking to do away with the deal, at least in the short term, or to go to war. The stated aim is to strengthen the deal, and restore US deterrence vis-à-vis the Iranian regime and the IRGC. The outcome, however, is far from guaranteed. This is due to inherent constraints, and the fact that while the policy makes sense, it is nevertheless a huge undertaking for a very controversial administration, and this in turn can further weaken Trump’s hand.

The author is a senior research fellow at INSS and head of the Arms Control and Regional Security Program. This article first appeared in INSS Insight.

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Brexit talks will remain deadlocked unless Theresa May stands up to Boris Johnson, says key Merkel ally

October 17, 2017

‘Whatever she is offering, Boris Johnson is saying it’s too much’

By Rob Merrick Deputy Political Editor

The Independent

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Boris Johnson is the obstacle to breaking the Brexit deadlock – in German eyes Getty

A key ally of Angela Merkel has warned the Brexit talks will remain deadlocked unless Theresa May is brave enough to stand up to Boris Johnson.

Michael Fuchs, the vice chairman of the German Chancellor’s party, blamed the Foreign Secretary for the impasse – because he was preventing the Prime Minister from making a proper financial offer.

“Theresa May has to come up with decent proposals,” Dr Fuchs said. “Whatever she is offering, Boris Johnson is saying it’s too much,”

Theresa May asked if Boris Johnson is unsackable

Arguing his influence was “pretty strong”, Dr Fuchs added: “Otherwise she would come up with other proposals. The problem is she has internal trouble in the Tories.”

He stopped short of suggesting Mr Johnson should be sacked, but added: “What he said was not a single cent to the EU – and that’s not, of course, acceptable.”

The comments, from such a powerful figure in the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), offer fresh evidence that Ms Merkel is now Britain’s toughest opponent in the negotiations.

Senior figures in Brussels were mystified that Ms May’s last-gasp dash to try to revive the talks was to join a dinner with the European Commission chief and his negotiator.

In fact, only if Ms Merkel, and French President Emmanuel Macron budge, can the talks progress onto a future trading arrangement – and there is no sign they will.

Last night, a 90-minute dinner in the Belgian capital with Jean-Claude Juncker, and Michel Barnier, from the Commission, failed to achieve any breakthrough.

It produced only a bland statement, saying both sides “reviewed the progress made in the article 50 negotiations so far and agreed that these efforts should accelerate over the months to come”.

Downing Street stressed the Prime Minister had gone no further than her offer to plug any hole in the EU’s budget if it agrees a transition period, after Brexit Day in 2019, of “about two years”.

But this would cover only Britain’s “subs”, of about £9bn a year – without addressing liabilities, such as for EU programmes and pension costs.

Meanwhile, the latest leak of a draft statement from EU leaders, ahead of a crucial summit on Friday, toughened the language against the British position.

Following pressure from France and Germany, it demanded progress on all three “divorce issues” – including EU citizens’ rights and the Irish border – as well as money.

The carrot is that the EU will give Mr Barnier, the chief negotiator, a mandate to open talks on trade in December, if “sufficient progress” is made by then.

Speaking on Radio 4’s Today programme, Dr Fuchs insisted Germany did not want a hard Brexit – and, in fact, regretted Britain leaving the EU more than any other country

But he added: “If you choose this way, it’s going to be like this. It’s going to be very tough for your country I think. I’m pretty sure we have to find a better solution.”

No 10 was pleased that the Commission had agreed the talks “should accelerate” and an agreement that dinner “took place in a constructive and friendly atmosphere”.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/brexit-talks-theresa-may-boris-johnson-angela-merkel-eu-germany-michael-fuchs-cdu-a8004366.html

UK leader makes surprise Brussels trip to undo Brexit logjam

October 16, 2017

OCTOBER 16, 2017 10:30 AM

Jean-Claude Juncker Promises an “Autopsy Report” After Meeting Theresa May To Discuss Brexit Monday Evening

October 16, 2017

Jean-Claude Juncker has said that there will be an “autopsy report” after his dinner with Theresa May tonight as the Prime Minister seeks to break the deadlock over Brexit negotiations

Mrs May has embarked on a diplomatic offensive ahead of a crucial meeting with European leaders later this week. She is speaking to Emmanual Macron, the French President, and Leo Varadkar, the Irish Taoiseach, before flying to Brussels this evening for dinner with Mr Juncker, the President of the European Commission.

Asked about the meeting, Mr Juncker said: “I never understood why journalists even the most eminent journalists ask for an outcome of a meeting before the meeting takes place. I will see Mrs May this evening, we will talk and you will have the autopsy report afterwards. ”

Read the rest:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/10/16/theresa-may-embarks-diplomatic-blitz-boris-johnson-tells-eu/

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Theresa May to appeal to Macron over Brexit transition period

Prime minister to phone French leader in hope of broadening negotiations to include talks on interim phase before leaving EU

Emmanuel Macron receives Theresa May at the Élysée Palace earlier this year.
 Emmanuel Macron receives Theresa May at the Élysée Palace earlier this year. Photograph: Thierry Chesnot/Getty Images

Theresa May is to appeal to the French president, Emmanuel Macron, to widen the Brexit negotiations to discuss a transition period, in the latest move amid a high-stakes flurry of diplomatic activity.

May is due to phone the Élysée Palace on Monday afternoon, it is understood, as the prime minister seeks to convince European leaders that talks on a transition phase should be approved at a European council summit on Friday. She will also call the Irish taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, before departing for Brussels for an early dinner with the European commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker, and the EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier.

Downing Street’s efforts are unlikely to be rewarded, however, unless May is willing to offer concrete guidance on how many of the UK’s financial commitments to the EU budget she is prepared to honour.

The EU leaders have concluded that insufficient progress has been made in the first phase of talks to open negotiations on the future trading relationship or discuss a transition period, a judgment they will formally deliver at the summit later this week.

The mood music ahead of the dinner with Juncker, to which the commission president’s chief of staff, Martin Selmayr, and May’s Brexit adviser, Olly Robbins, have also been invited, was soured earlier on Monday when the commission president gave a hint of his feelings about the forthcoming event. “I’m going to see Mrs May tonight. And, yes, you will have a postmortem report,” he told reporters.

It is understood that May will spend only 90 minutes in Brussels before returning to London. The last meal between the two leaders, in Downing Street, was heavily leaked to the newspapers, with Juncker allegedly describing the prime minister as “deluded”.

A senior EU source all but dismissed the prime minister’s hopes of pushing transition talks, claiming that European leaders had overruled Barnier when he suggested opening talks on a transition phase, and were in no mood to offer May any succour. “The problem is not in the commission so you will not find the solution in the commission,” he said.

The source said European capitals were insistent that phase one of the negotiations, taking in citizens rights, the financial settlement and the Irish border, needed to be settled first.

“What the British have in mind is some sort of stage one and a half. Not sufficient progress but you can start talks on negotiations on the transition,” the source said. “That is not going to happen because I think in the capitals they are very much in touch with this idea that we have a staged approached. We were very specific when it came to the guidelines what we meant by the first phase.”

The source said May was doing her best to get the best possible outcome from the EU27 meeting on Friday. The best the UK could hope for, however, was for the group to offer to scope out among themselves how a transition period would work, in the hope that Britain would have delivered concrete proposals on the financial settlement by the next European council summit in December.

In her speech in Florence, May had announced that the UK would “honour commitments we have made during the period of our membership”, without spelling out what those commitments were.

“Until the speech in Florence, the feeling in the capitals was that it was going nowhere and the no-deal scenario was the most likely one’, the source acknowledged. “Since florence Theresa May did manage to change this assumption. The message from Florence was: ‘I mean business, the UK is in the negotiating business,’ which was not so clear before.”

The source added, however, that without additional firm commitments on the financial settlement, there would be limited reward for May’s efforts.

“I have to admit they [the British] are not happy with the conclusions,” the EU official said. “They would like to go further but that will be the landing zone with the current input.”

See more:

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/oct/16/thereas-may-to-appeal-to-emmanuel-macron-over-brexit-transition-period

With far-right in turmoil, France’s Le Pen softens anti-EU stance — “European Union is an instrument for the impoverishment of people”

October 11, 2017

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Marine Le Pen, member of parliament and head of France’s far-right National Front (FN) political party. REUTERS photo by Benoit Tessier

PARIS (Reuters) – Far-right leader Marine Le Pen has said it is possible to improve the lives of French citizens without leaving the single European currency, in a marked shift from the anti-EU stance she pushed during her failed presidential bid.

Le Pen’s National Front party has been in turmoil since her heavy defeat to Emmanuel Macron in May’s presidential election, split by deep internal divisions over its view on Europe that forced the departure of Le Pen’s deputy last month.

“In numerous areas it is possible to improve the daily life of the French without quitting Europe or the euro currency,” Le Pen told weekly magazine Valeurs Actuelles in comments to be published on Thursday.

“We have heard the French people,” she said.

Her remarks are the clearest indication yet that the National Front will focus on policies around immigration  and national identity, and soften the anti-EU rhetoric that cost her dear in the election.

While public discontent toward Brussels has fueled nationalist sentiment in France, in particular in rural and low income areas, opinion polls show there is little appetite for France to follow Britain out of Europe, or to drop the euro.

The departure of Florian Philippot, for years Le Pen’s closest aide and a staunch advocate of an anti-euro, protectionist line, split the National Front but also paved the way to a policy change as the far-right party seeks to rebrand itself.

During her election campaign, Le Pen promised a referendum on EU membership. After suffering a bruising defeat to Macron in the May run-off vote, Le Pen’s National Front won just eight seats in the National Assembly, leaving it with a weak voice and unable to form a parliamentary group.

Last month, already toning down her language, she said that “national sovereignty” would be a mainstay of the party’s struggle.

“We will continue to fight the European Union with all our soul because it is an instrument for the impoverishment of people,” she said in the wake of Philippot’s resignation.

Reporting by Simon Carraud; Writing by Richard Lough; Editing by Richard Balmforth