EU to start internal plans for Brexit trade talks, says draft Council document

EU officials should begin “internal preparatory discussions” to get ready for the second phase of Brexit talks on the U.K.’s future relationship with the bloc, according to a draft document prepared ahead of the European Council summit next week.

The document — which was drafted by European Council President Donald Tusk’s team and will form the basis of conclusions adopted at the summit by EU leaders — strikes a more upbeat tone than remarks by the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier at a press conference Thursday.

Concluding round 5 of the talks, Barnier said discussions about the U.K.’s financial obligations were “deadlocked.” But the green light in the draft text for internal EU discussions about moving to phase 2 on trade, is a recognition of “considerable progress” in the talks, according to an EU official familiar with the document.

The draft conclusions — which have been shared with member countries — say that “sufficient progress” to move on to phase 2 has not been achieved yet in the negotiations, despite “welcome” progress on citizens’ rights and the Northern Irish border.

The document notes the U.K.’s promise to meet its financial obligations to the EU through to the end of 2020, but states, “this has not yet been translated into a firm and concrete commitment.”

The EU official told POLITICO that the beginning of internal preparations should not be seen as giving in to the U.K.

EU ambassadors are set to discuss the document in Brussels Friday morning in preparation for the summit.

Original Article

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