EU Parliament President calls for Brexit talks to be delayed

Antonio TajaniGetty Images/Sean GallupEuropean Parliament President Antonio Tajani
  • The European Parliament president has said he will propose delaying Brexit talks.
  • Negotiations are at a stalemate over the size of the divorce bill.
  • Discussions over the future relationship might not start until 2018.

LONDON — Brexit negotiations should not be allowed to progress to the next stage until December, the president of the European Parliament has said, in the clearest sign that talks will be delayed.

Antonio Tajani, who is currently in charge of the Parliament, told Politico that he would propose to senior MEPs on Thursday the delaying of the European Council’s decision on whether there has been “sufficient progress” in the first phase of negotiations, moving it from October to December.

He also said that the government had not given any “concrete proposals,” only “very foggy proposals” so far.

The European Council, the body of the EU27 heads of state, was due to decide whether “sufficient progress” had been made on citizens’ rights, the withdrawal settlement and the Irish border before giving negotiators a mandate to move talks onto the future relationship between the UK and EU.

However, there have been concerns that talks are at a stalemate over the size of the financial settlement the UK owes the EU after Brexit. Last week the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier said there has been no “decisive progress on any of the principle subjects.”

If the decision on whether progress should be allowed was delayed until just before Christmas, talks about the future relationship would likely not begin until 2018.

Tajani said: “We have three irrevocable priorities which are: rights for three-and-a-half million EU citizens living in the UK; the payment of what the EU deserves — not a euro more nor a euro less; third point, the Good Friday Agreement, that has to give us a positive solution for the border between Ulster and the Republic of Ireland.

“Once we have reached an agreement on these three points, we can talk about the future. Without an agreement on this, we cannot talk about the future. So far we have noted that no concrete proposals have arrived, only very foggy proposals.”

On Tuesday Brexit Secretary David Davis said that arguments over the withdrawal bill will continue throughout the process, telling MPs: “My expectation is that the money argument will go on for the full duration of this negotiation.”

Tajani said that he would “ask the Council tomorrow [to extend the deadline] but it’s not our fault, but due to delays… And the Brits are the ones who will be most affected by it. It is not a tragedy, but we cannot postpone further than December.”

Despite this, on Monday Prime Minister Theresa May ruled out delaying Britain’s exit from the EU, with her spokesperson saying: “We will be leaving the European Union in March 2019.”

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