EU Council: Tusk says Brexit deadlock ‘exaggerated’, Juncker disagrees

EPA-EFE/STEPHANIE LECOCQ

European Council President Donald Tusk (L) and EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker (R) leave after addressing a press briefing on the second day of the European Council Meeting in Brussels, Belgium, 20 October 2017.

EU Council: Tusk says Brexit deadlock ‘exaggerated’, Juncker disagrees


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The European Council president Donald Tusk said on Friday that negotiation talks between the EU and the UK on Brexit are “deadlocked” are exaggerated.

Tusk further suggested that progress is really being made towards a deal in December on the three main issues of the first part. Even so, further efforts are needed to fully expand the negotiations topics, widening the scope of talks beyond divorce.

“it doesn’t mean that there is no progress at all,” said Tusk to reporters at the end of October’s European Council in Brussels. While the EU Brexit negotiations chief Michel Barnier had used the term “deadlock” three times within the same press conference a few days ago, after the fourth round of talks was over in Brussels, the European Council president does not share this feeling.

On the other side, contradicting his institutional neighbor, the European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker told reporters that Barnier did not exaggerate. “In my rhetoric, I would have used the word deadlock four times, not three times,” said Juncker.

The EU executive president also used the European Council’s final press conference to stress that as for the UK side, no one had yet explained what a “no deal scenario” means to London, even though Brussels understood perfectly well. Juncker underlined that the British would be in for a “collective education” were it to go down the no deal route in negotiations.

“I want to be the positive motivator for the next five or six weeks because our ambition is to achieve the final of the first phase in December. For this we need, maybe a more positive narrative. You can describe our negotiations in very different words, but my feeling today … I feel that for sure both sides present only good will and this is why maybe in my rhetoric I am maybe a little bit more optimistic than Michel Barnier, but I am also in a different role,” added Tusk, defending his more positive view on divorce talks.

But even if Tusk struggled to show a more positive tone, the next round of Brexit negotiations has not yet been scheduled, even though both the UK and the EU say that they are aiming to make sufficient progress in negotiations before the European Council summit in December this year, the next opportunity for the EU-27 to judge whether it is time for trade talks after the two sides failed to make it to this Friday’s first negotiating milestone.

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