EU's Tusk: Not enough progress to move on to post-Brexit trade talks

London -

Bill Smith,- European Council President Donald Tusk on Tuesday said there was "not sufficient progress yet" in Brexit negotiations to move on to discussions of future trade relations between Britain and the EU.

 Tusk said he was "cautiously optimistic" after Prime Minister Theresa May's "constructive, more realistic Brexit tone" in her speech in Florence on Friday, when she proposed a two-year transition after Brexit and told EU citizens they were welcome to stay in Britain.
"I feel now we will discuss our future relations with the UK once there is so-called sufficient progress [in the negotiations]," he told reporters outside Downing Street following talks with May.
"The two sides are working and we will work hard at it," he said.
"But if you ask me, and if today member states ask me, I would say there is not sufficient progress yet."
May proposed a two-year transition after Brexit takes effect in March 2019, and told worried EU citizens that she wants them to stay in Britain.
Other EU officials and the leaders of several EU member states urged her to provide more clarity on her proposals.
As talks began in Brussels on Monday, Michel Barnier, the EU's chief Brexit negotiator, said more progress was needed on the three key issues of citizens' rights, the "divorce bill," and the Irish border.
Tusk said on Twitter that he met Barnier early Tuesday to discuss progress in the talks ahead of his meeting with May.
After meeting May in London on Monday, Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar urged her to be "more specific" on how she plans to preserve the open border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland after Brexit.
In in indication that this week's negotiations might not break the impasse over the timing of trade talks, Brexit Secretary David Davis told Barnier on Monday that a final agreement on Britain's financial settlement can only happen "in the context of and in accordance with a new, deep and special partnership with the European Union."
The EU is adamant that the three key issues must be settled before talks on a future trade relationship can begin.


Tuesday, September 26th 2017
Bill Smith, dpa

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