The Latest: May says UK, EU need ‘courage, trust’ on Brexit
BRUSSELS (AP) — The Latest on Britain’s upcoming exit from the European Union (all times local):
British Prime Minister Theresa May has told her 27 European Union counterparts that the U.K. and the EU both need to show “courage, trust and leadership” to settle their remaining differences and strike a divorce deal.
May addressed fellow national leaders at a Brussels summit on Wednesday. She stressed the strong bonds between Britain and the bloc and the progress made by their negotiating teams before the other leaders left for dinner without her.
According to her office, May stressed that she remains committed to finding a “legally operative” guarantee that the border between Northern Ireland and Ireland will remain open and frictionless after Brexit — the key stumbling point to a deal — and wants to find a “creative” way out of the dilemma.
May’s somewhat vague words may have fallen short of the concrete proposals EU leaders have demanded. European Parliament President Antonio Tajani said he had not heard “anything substantially new in content” in May’s 15-minute speech.
The president of the European Parliament says Prime Minister Theresa May failed to bring new Brexit initiatives to the table while addressing fellow leader of European Union countries.
European Parliament President Antonio Tajani said after emerging from the meeting where May spoke Wednesday that the British prime minister offered “no change in content.”
Tajani said: “I did not perceive anything substantially new in content” from May’s earlier proposals for a Brexit agreement with the EU.
He says the atmosphere was more relaxed than at an ill-tempered summit in Salzburg last year.
Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz says “the ball is in Great Britain’s court” to come up with a way to break the logjam in Brexit talks.
Leaders of the European Union say Britain needs to offer new proposals on how to prevent a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland after the U.K. leaves the bloc in March. The issue has bedeviled negotiations and scuttled attempts to reach a divorce deal over the weekend.
Now both sides say a deal is still possible — in time.
Kurz, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency, said as he arrived for a summit in Brussels that “I hope that in the coming weeks and months we’ll manage to conclude this Brexit.”
He said British Prime Minister Theresa May needed to “make some adjustments” to her position and “if there’s a small step in the right direction today I would judge that a success.”
The European Union’s chief Brexit negotiator says the EU and the British government need “much more time” to reach a divorce agreement.
Michel Barnier said as he arrived in Brussels for an EU summit on Wednesday that both sides had worked hard “but we are not there yet.”
Weekend talks aimed at securing a Brexit deal before the summit failed to clear the main sticking point — how to keep goods and people flowing freely across the Ireland-Northern Ireland border after Britain leaves the EU.
That scuttled hopes that Wednesday’s summit would see a breakthrough.
Barnier said: “We need much more time and we will continue to work in the next weeks, calmly and patiently.”
Lithuania’s president says Britain hasn’t really been able to explain how it wants to leave the European Union and she thinks domestic politics are to blame.
President Dalia Grybauskaite said Wednesday as she, Britain’s prime minister and leaders of the EU’s other met for a Brexit summit in Brussels: “Today, we do not know what they want. They do not know themselves what they really want. That is the problem.”
Grybauskaite insisted the dwindling time before Britain’s scheduled withdrawal date of March 29 is more of a problem for the departing party than for the EU.
The Lithuanian leader says the encroaching deadline won’t make the EU more likely to compromise on the terms of Britain’s departure.
Grybauskaite said: “We took steps. We need to know what the other side wants, finally. It is still a great secret.”
British Prime Minister Theresa May says she thinks a Brexit deal can be sealed “over the next days and weeks” with hard work from the U.K. and the European Union.
Speaking before she addresses her 27 EU counterparts at a Brussels summit dinner, May said “most of the issues” on a withdrawal agreement have been resolved, though a gap remains on the issue of the Irish border.
She said “everybody around the table” wants an agreement for an orderly withdrawal, and “by working intensively over the next days and weeks I believe we can achieve a deal.”
Expectations of a breakthrough at this week’s summit were dashed over the weekend when negotiators failed to agree on terms.
Bank of England Governor Mark Carney has confirmed that the bank will publish an analysis of the economic impact of any Brexit deal the government reaches with the European Union.
In a letter to Nicky Morgan, who heads the parliamentary Treasury Select Committee, Carney said the bank will publish its analysis “in good time” before any parliamentary vote. He said it will also publish its economic analysis of what Britain faces if heading for a sudden exit next March with no deal on future relations and no transition.
May is in Brussels for an EU leaders’ summit and trying to break the Brexit deadlock.
Since the Brexit vote in June 2016, the Bank of England has worked on the assumption that Britain’s exit from the EU would be smooth, though with negative economic consequences.
Carney confirmed he warned the Cabinet last month of a worst-case scenario if Britain crashes out with no deal and no transition. Reports at the time said he warned that house prices could crash by a third.
Ireland’s foreign minister says the European Union is open to extending Britain’s post-Brexit transition period so that a permanent solution can be found to the Irish border problem.
Under current proposals, Britain will remain inside EU rules from the time it leaves the bloc in March until December 2020, to give time for new trade relations to be set up.
Many suspect that will not be enough time, which has led the EU to demand a “backstop” to ensure there are no customs posts or other controls along the border between the U.K.’s Northern Ireland and EU member Ireland. Disagreement over the backstop has brought divorce negotiations to a standstill.
Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said Wednesday that EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier had suggested “more time in the transition period to agree an alternative solution to a backstop.”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel says she still believes it’s possible to conclude a “good” agreement with Britain before its withdrawal from the European Union in March, but is stressing that Germany also is preparing for the risk of a no-deal departure.
Merkel addressed the German parliament Wednesday ahead of an EU summit at which there appears to be little chance of a breakthrough on Brexit.
Merkel said: “The chance of achieving a good and sustainable withdrawal agreement in good time is still there, and it is really in the interest of our relations with Britain, in the interest of our economy ... and of course in the interest of people in our countries.”
As for the future relationship with Britain, she said “it must always be clear that, although we want to avoid hardship, ultimately the difference between membership in the European Union and a partnership with the European Union as a third state must and will become clear.”
The European Union’s top trade official is playing down the importance of a U.S. announcement that it will pursue a trade deal with Britain, noting London cannot negotiate such pacts until it leaves the bloc.
The U.S. administration has notified Congress that it will seek trade pacts with the EU, Japan and Britain. President Donald Trump has long said he wants a deal with Britain, even as it negotiates a messy EU exit.
EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom recalled Wednesday that “the U.K. cannot negotiate any trade agreement as long as they are a member of the European Union.”
Speaking ahead of a Brexit summit in Brussels, Malmstrom said the Europeans “see this merely as preparations being made by the U.S. to negotiate with them and others.”
European Union leaders are converging on Brussels for what had been billed as a “moment of truth” Brexit summit but which now holds little promise for a breakthrough.
British Prime Minister Theresa May is set to urge her counterparts to give ground on Britain’s departure from the bloc, while EU leaders hope she brings “concrete proposals” to break the deadlock.
EU Council President Donald Tusk says “creative” thinking is required to avoid a hard border between EU member Ireland and Northern Ireland in the U.K.
Britain leaves the EU on March 29 but a deal must be sealed soon so relevant parliaments have time to give their verdict.
Wednesday’s summit comes as a new survey shows that 62 percent of Europeans consider EU membership to be a good thing.