EU Is Said to Seek a Road Map for Future U.K. Deal by December

LONDON (Capital Markets in Africa) – European Union countries are seeking to complete preparatory work on a future relationship with the U.K. before the end of the year, in a move intended to keep hope alive for Theresa May’s government as Brexit negotiations stall.

The European Council, which represents member states, will start working with the European Commission as soon as this month on the key points, according to an EU government official familiar with the matter. The plan is to have a road map ready by December so trade negotiations can begin as soon as sufficient progress has been made on separation talks, the official said, asking not to be named, as the decision hasn’t been made public.

Preparations will include about 15 policy areas regarding the future relationship between the two sides — from financial services to fishing and anti-dumping, the official said. Reaching a shared understanding on these elements will allow expanding the mandate of the bloc’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier when EU leaders next meet at a summit in December, the official said.

The EU27’s leaders will call this week for the start of “internal preparatory discussions” on the framework of a future trade deal with the U.K. as well as on transitional arrangements toward such a deal, according to a draft statement on Brexit obtained by Bloomberg. This commitment falls short of the U.K.’s expectations for a start in transition discussions this month.

The official said that not a single country in the EU has claimed that sufficient progress has been made on separation talks for trade negotiations to begin, even though France and Germany have been singled out as the hardliners. Several other officials from across the EU confirm that there was no support for trade discussions to begin.

“We have lots of work to do,” Barnier told reporters in Luxembourg ahead of a meeting of EU’s European affairs ministers to discuss Brexit. “I have said we are ready to accelerate the rhythm but to accelerate you need two.”

Source: Bloomberg Business News

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