Clock ticks as Brexit talks resume

Author: 
www.news24.com

Britain and the European Union resume Brexit talks on Thursday with little hope of a breakthrough and fears that the fragility of Theresa May's government threatens further progress before the end of the year.

The sixth round of negotiations is the first since EU leaders warned May at an October 20 summit that Britain had made insufficient progress to move on from divorce issues to discussions of a future trade deal.

They said they planned to start internal preparations soon with the aim of kicking off trade talks with Britain in December, but officials warned that that deadline now seems increasingly shaky.

"More progress needed on three key topics," EU negotiator Michel Barnier said on Twitter on the eve of the talks, along with a graphic showing the terms the remaining 27 EU states expect Britain to agree to.

This week's talks feature a stripped down two-day schedule, with Frenchman Barnier and his British counterpart David Davis only set to meet on Friday morning, sources said.

The EU demands progress on three key divorce issues – Britain's exit bill to meet its commitments to the EU budget, the fate of the border between Northern Ireland and Ireland and the rights of EU citizens in Britain.

The British premier's government however looks increasingly distracted, with the resignation of its aid minister over meetings in Israel on Wednesday adding to the sense of chaos since May's disastrous showing in elections earlier this year.

"I see a strong willingness to come to a deal. I am confident that everybody understands what has to be done on both sides," an EU diplomat told AFP on condition of anonymity.



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