Ahead of this week’s Informal Summit in Salzburg, EU officials in Brussels have been running through the agenda as the European heads of state and government gear up for talks ranging from Brexit to the Skripal poisoning in the UK earlier this year.
No breakthrough is expected during the gathering in Austria as the leaders are now looking ahead to meetings scheduled for October and November. Europe’s leaders need to have concrete proposals for a declaration on Brexit by mid-October, leaving the heads of the EU-27 unable to issue new instructions to the bloc’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, regarding trade issues to be discussed in Salzburg.
The EU official said British Prime Minister Theresa May will comment on Brexit during on Wednesday evening.
“If we take the timetable seriously, and we do, then in October we need to come back with something on paper regarding the EU’s position and based on the discussions that took place in Salzburg,” a senior EU official told New Europe, who added that the EU leaders need to develop a “common understanding” on what a future political declaration will say. They are expected to issue a strongly worded reminder that without agreement on the status of the border between EU-member Ireland and Northern Ireland in the UK, there will be no withdrawal agreement, no transition, and no trade deal.
A declaration on trade will most likely reflect the to opposing views of Barnier and the French President Emmanuel Macron, who are both pushing for a detailed roadmap for the bloc over fears that May’s government will push to radically alter the terms agreed once Brexit becomes official in March of next year.
EU Council President Donald Tusk and some of the bloc’s leaders, however, are more eager to see a less detailed and a more vague declaration in order to give the UK room to evolve adjust its position to one that will be closer to the Single Market to avoid an economic “catastrophe” from a Tusk writes to his letter to the leaders ahead of the summit – that the no-deal scenario.