European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker says he hates the idea of a “no deal” scenario when it comes to Brexit.
He was speaking to reporters at the end of a two-day summit in Brussels, where British Prime Minister Theresa May was wooing leaders, as she tries desperately to move the divorce negotiations into a second phase – focused on trade.
“I want to say that our working assumption is not the no deal scenario. I hate the no deal scenario,” said Juncker.
“And by the way I don’t know what that means, nobody was explaining till today what would be the consequences of a total no deal arrangement. I am not in favour of a no deal. I want a fair deal with Britain.”
No second round of talks yet, but EU leaders have made a goodwill gesture – launching internal preparations to speed up future negotiations. It means May will not have gone home empty handed.
Reports of a deadlock in the talks are described as “exaggerated.”
“What was important for me and for Theresa May, yesterday and today, was to rebuild this atmosphere of trust and good will. And I think that we succeed,” said European Council President Donald Tusk.
May admits that there’s still “some way” to go. From the EU side, that means more talk about money, with the divorce bill remaining a stumbling block.
“What I have made clear to our EU counterparts in relation to the financial contribution is what I set out in my Florence speech, which is, that I have said that nobody needs to be concerned for the current budget plan that they would have to either pay more, or receive less, as a result of the UK leaving,” she added.
“We will honour the commitments we have made during our membership.”
May says she is positive and ambitious, with agreement on citizens’ rights in “touching distance.” But France’s president says she has another problem.
“There are common objectives that are set out and driven by Michel Barnier on the European side, which we support. I believe that Theresa May’s problem is that those who advocated Brexit have never explained to the British people what the consequences would be,” Macron told reporters in Brussels.
It all makes for a messy divorce. There will be more tough talking to come before this marriage is finally dissolved.