Brexit progress but not enough to open trade talks

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By Catherine Hardy  with REUTERS, BLOOMBERG
Brexit progress but not enough to open trade talks

The EU and the UK have made progress in the latest round of their divorce talks, according to those involved.

However, not enough has been made to move on to the next phase of discussions on a transition period after Brexit, or a future trade deal.

This week’s round of negotiations follows a speech in Florence by UK Prime Minister Theresa May. In it, she made some concessions, in the hope of unblocking the three-month-old talks and paving the way for the EU to open discussions on a post-Brexit free trade deal.

A new dynamic?

Both sides involved in the intricate negotiations arranging the UK’s withdrawal – or “Brexit” – from the EU have welcomed a “new dynamic” in the negotiations.

However, deep divisions remain on trade and on the role of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) should have after the UK leaves.

Both sides spoke in Brussels at the end of the fourth round of Brexit talks in three months.

What did they say?

EU Chief negotiator Michel Barnier says it will take “weeks or months” before Brexit talks can move on to trade.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s speech in Florence last week “made it possible to unblock the situation,” Barnier said at a press conference in Brussels after the latest round of talks.

Barnier said “useful” talks had been held over the financial settlement but clarity is still lacking.

Citizens’ rights

The ECJ – a “stumbling block”

The Insight

Commentators are speaking of a new sense of momentum in the talks, a more positive feeling and a genuine sense of change.

Both David Davis and Michel Barnier mentioned UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s speech in Florence last week.

Analysts say the speech, which included a concrete offer of money,seems to have broken the deadlock talks had reached.

When is the next round due?

One more round is due in early October before leaders meet at an EU summit.

At that stage, they will decide whether talks can move on to trade and the terms of the future transition deal.

Next week, the European Parliament will call for leaders not to move talks on to trade at the summit, unless a major breakthrough is made next month.