Merkel Sends Positive Signal to May on Brexit Talks
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, in a markedly positive response on Friday to an EU summit appeal by Prime Minister Theresa May for help with Brexit, said talks with Britain were moving forward and were unlikely to break down, Reuters writes.
Merkel made her comments at the end of the first day of a European Union summit and after May had appealed to her fellow leaders to help her silence critics at home and break a deadlock in the talks.
“In contrast to how it is portrayed in the British press, my impression is that these talks are moving forward step by step,” Merkel told a late-night news conference, dismissing as “absurd” suggestions in Britain that the talks should be broken off.
“I have absolutely no doubts that if we are all focused ... that we can get a good result. From my side there are no indications at all that we won’t succeed,” she said.
Arriving for the second day, others emphasized the positive too: Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat called May’s speech her “best performance yet” and “a warm, candid and sincere appeal”. Ireland’s Leo Varadkar said it was “very strong”.
But others complained they had heard little new of substance and rejected May’s repetition of London’s view that demands for money from Brussels have “no legal framework”. Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern said “rhetorical progress” needed to be followed by “tangible conclusions”.
After May leaves the summit on Friday, the other 27 leaders are expected to rule that there has not been sufficient progress to push the talks forward but will call on their staff to prepare for talks on a transition period that would smooth Britain’s exit in 2019.
May made no comment as she arrived for a breakfast meeting with summit chair Donald Tusk. Near midnight, speaking at the end of a dinner of butternut squash gnocchi and pheasant, she had sought to calm fears Britain would use its departure in March 2019 to undercut the EU economy by lowering standards.
She appealed to EU leaders to respond in kind to her efforts to break the Brexit stalemate, making clear she was disappointed at their plan to announce on Friday that talks have not yet made enough progress to move on to a discussion of future trade ties.
The EU is seeking a clearer commitment from Britain that it will settle financial obligations linked to its exit. Leaders will on Friday set a target of December for London to improve its divorce settlement offer.
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