Little sign of progress as Juncker and May meet to discuss Brexit

EPA-EFE//OLIVIER HOSLET

British Prime Minister Theresa May and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker before a meeting on Brexit in Brussels, February 7, 2019.

Little sign of progress as Juncker and May meet to discuss Brexit


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After meeting for what was described as describing their talks on changing the Brexit agreement as “robust, but constructive” talks on the next steps in the Brexit process, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and the British Prime Minister Theresa May agreed to meet for another round of discussions before the end of February where they hope to continue “in the spirit of working together” to achieve an orderly Brexit.

According to the joint statement, May said the UK is seeking a legally binding change to the terms of the backstop. May raised “various options for dealing with these concerns” in the context of the Withdrawal Agreement in line with her commitments to the British Parliament.

Juncker, however, quickly rejected any notion that the EU-27 will reopen the negotiations on the Withdrawal Agreement as, according to Juncker, “both sides have already made significant concessions to arrive at a deal”, but added that he was willing to “express his openness to add (certain) wording to the Political Declaration” that has been agreed between the EU and the UK, “in order to be more ambitious in terms of content and speed when it comes to the future relationship” between Brussels and London.

Both Juncker and May agreed to continue talking in the hope that their teams can find a way through the current impasse, “one that would gain the broadest possible support in the British Parliament”.

May will also hold talks with European Council President Donald Tusk, who sparked controversy on Wednesday by declaring there was a “special place in hell” for Brexiters who pushed for Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union, but who had no plan on how to deliver a safe exit for the UK.

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