No reason Brexit deal will not be successful, says Merkel

Violet Powell
October 21, 2017

But even if Tusk struggled to show a more positive tone, the next round of Brexit negotiations has not yet been scheduled, even though both the United Kingdom and the EU say that they are aiming to make sufficient progress in negotiations before the European Council summit in December this year, the next opportunity for the EU-27 to judge whether it is time for trade talks after the two sides failed to make it to this Friday's first negotiating milestone.

EU President Donald Tusk said reports the talks were in deadlock were "exaggerated", hailing a speech May made in Florence, Italy, last month for breaking the impasse.

British Prime Minister Theresa May urged her 27 European Union partners 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 on March 29, 2019.

Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel on Friday urged the United Kingdom to be clearer in the solutions it proposes to settle its exit from the European Union, following the Leave vote in the referendum in June 2016 on Brexit.

Mrs May made her remarks after leaving a European Council breakfast in Brussels.

European leaders struck a broadly supportive tone for May, who has struggled to contain divisions in her government since losing her parliamentary majority in a June election, and appealed to her colleagues over dinner Thursday to help her make headway in the Brexit talks. "We are working on this very intensively", said Merkel. Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party is propping up the Conservatives, placing them in a pivotal position as Brexit talks unfold.

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An EU source said that starting preparations on guidelines for the trade talks would save time if and when the political decision was taken to move forward in December.

He added: "There are still delays on the three main issues, on the financial settlement, on citizens' rights and on Irish specific issues but I think we are inching forward and are making some progress".

And a French presidency source said "scoping work has already broadly started", referring to preparations on the broad areas a deal might cover.

"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 told them. "From my side there are no indications at all that we won't succeed", she said.

Arriving at the summit on Thursday Angela Merkel said she believe there were "encouraging" signs that sufficient progress could be made in December.

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