EU leaders voiced optimism on Friday that sufficient progress could be made in the Brexit negotiations before a European Council summit in mid-December.
Council President Donald Tusk is set to meet U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May on Friday afternoon on the sidelines of a summit focused on the EU’s relations with six former Soviet republics.
Arriving at the Eastern Partnership summit on Friday morning, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said he was confident progress would be made, but stopped short of saying it would be the “sufficient progress” on divorce terms that the EU27 have set as a condition for moving on to Phase 2 of the talks.
Noting that he has his own dinner meeting with May scheduled for the evening of December 4, Juncker said: “We’ll see if there has been sufficient progress.”
He was then asked, “Are you at all confident progress will be made?” Juncker replied: “Yes.”
In her own brief remarks to reporters, May sidestepped a question about the so-called Brexit bill and whether Britain was being blackmailed in the talks. She said she was “looking ahead to the future deep and special partnership that I want with the European Union,” adding: “These negotiations are continuing.”
Pointedly, May added: “What I am clear about is we must step forward together.”
Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney also voiced guarded optimism.
“There’s a lot of work over the next three weeks, but it’s doable,” Coveney said. “For Phase 2 to happen, we need significant movement — on getting credible answers, a credible roadmap to make sure that a hard border doesn’t happen.” He added, “We can’t move to Phase 2 based on aspirations.”
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