BRUSSELS (AP) — The Latest on Britain’s exit from the European Union (all times local):
While the Irish border issue is holding up a comprehensive Brexit deal, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez says the status of Gibraltar won’t be an obstacle.
At the conclusion of a European Union leaders’ summit, Sanchez said the Gibraltar issue between the United Kingdom and Spain “is resolved” and “won’t be a problem” for Britain’s plans to leave the EU.
The EU’s guidelines on negotiations for Britain’s future relationship with the bloc had granted Spain veto rights over the issue of Gibraltar, making it a potential difficulty.
Sanchez didn’t go into detail about the agreement over the tiny territory on Spain’s southern border, which London has controlled for three centuries against Madrid’s wishes.
Sanchez told reporters that an agreement had been reached, though some thorny issues were left aside for further negotiation. They include workers’ movements across the border and security matters.
French President Emmanuel Macron says the solution to the Ireland border issue, which has hobbled Brexit negotiations with Britain, can only come from Prime Minister Theresa May.
At the end of an EU leaders’ summit that was dominated by Brexit, Macron said it’s “not up to the European Union to make concessions to deal with an internal British political matter.”
May is struggling to forge a consensus in her Cabinet as well as within her government over how to assure the EU that a hard border, with associated customs checks, won’t return between EU member Ireland and Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom.
Macron said: It’s a matter concerning Britain’s political ability to find a presentable agreement. That’s all.”
There has been no hard border on the island of Ireland since the Good Friday Agreement two decades ago formally brought an end to the conflict in Northern Ireland.
EU Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker is throwing his weight behind the idea of extending a transition period as Britain leaves the bloc, calling it “a good idea.”
British Prime Minister Theresa May said at a Brexit summit she will consider an extension of several months to the proposed transition period, which currently stands at 21 months. Agreement on such an extension could help break the deadlock on the talks.
Juncker said Thursday “this prolongation of the transition period probably will happen. It’s a good idea.”
He added that “this is giving us some room to prepare the future relations in the best way possible.”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel says European Union leaders “deliberately” did not dwell on a “no-deal Brexit” outcome during their summit.
She said: “Everyone should of course prepare for this, without wanting this option to be necessary.” She added that “we deliberately didn’t talk about this in detail yesterday so as not to create the impression that we are already busying ourselves intensively with this question — our focus was on the question of how we can achieve a withdrawal agreement and a statement on future relations with Britain.”
“As long as we don’t have a solution we won’t be able to explain exactly how it can succeed,” she said Thursday. “Where there’s a will, there should be a way, and normally there is a way.”
British Prime Minister Theresa May says the remaining differences on Brexit terms between the U.K. and the European Union are “few but considerable” — but she says she is confident the two sides will reach an agreement.
EU leaders are wrapping up a summit long billed as a deadline for a Brexit bill, but which turned out to be a damp squib.
With talks on the vexing issue of the Irish border deadlocked, both sides said they needed several more weeks or months to work on an agreement.
There was a glimmer of progress around a proposal to extend a post-Brexit transition period to give more time for a new U.K.-EU trade deal — but that is fiercely opposed by May’s pro-Brexit critics at home.
Britain is due to leave the bloc on March 29, so there is not much time to strike a deal and get it approved by relevant parliaments before the deadline.
EU Council President Donald Tusk says this week’s summit with British Prime Minister Theresa May has left him more optimistic that a Brexit deal can be found for Britain’s divorce from the bloc.
Tusk says “what I feel today is that we are closer to the final solutions and the deal.” He acknowledged that “it may be a more emotional impression than a rational one, but emotions matter, also in politics.”
Tusk was blamed for contributing to a tense atmosphere at an EU summit in September in Austria, when he made frank comments and compounded it with an Instagram entry that was considered flippant and disrespectful toward May.
He says “we are in a much better mood than after Salzburg.”
British Prime Minister Theresa May is getting criticism from across the British political spectrum for considering a European Union proposal that would keep the U.K. bound to the bloc’s rules for more than two years after it leaves the EU in March.
Seeking to unblock stalled divorce talks with the EU, May said on Thursday that a proposed 21-month transition period after Brexit could be extended by “a matter of months.”
The two sides previously said Britain will remain inside the EU single market, and subject to the bloc’s regulations, from the day it leaves on March 29 until December 2020, to give time for new trade relations to be set up.
But with talks at an impasse, the bloc has suggested extending that period to provide more time to strike an agreement that ensures the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland remains friction-free.
The Irish border issue is the main sticking point in Brexit negotiations.
British Prime Minister Theresa May says she is considering a European Union proposal that would keep Britain bound to the bloc’s rules for more than two years after Brexit.
At present the two sides say Britain will remain subject to the bloc’s rules from Brexit day on March 29 until December 2020, to give time for new trade relations to be set up.
With divorce talks stuck, the bloc has suggested extending that period, to give more time to strike a trade deal that ensures a frictionless border between Northern Ireland and Ireland.
May said Thursday that the U.K. is considering extending the transition period by “a matter of months.”
The idea has angered pro-Brexit U.K. politicians, who see it as an attempt to bind Britain to the bloc indefinitely.
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