The Times: Theresa May’s Brexit plan opens rift among EU leaders20 September 2018 | 03:09 | FOCUS News Agency
Some EU countries are pressing for the leaders to engage with British proposals, which they see as a “positive” step towards reaching a deal.
This group, which is led by the Netherlands and Belgium and backed by Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, is being challenged by the European Commission and the leaders of France and Germany, who are said to be unwilling to make the concessions demanded by the British.
EU leaders are due to meet without Mrs May this afternoon to discuss their response to her Chequers proposal. Britain is hoping that they will agree to a redrafting of the EU’s negotiating mandate before what is being seen as a make-or-break summit in November. Widening the mandate of the negotiations would allow the EU to soften its position on customs and partial membership of the single market and move closer to Mrs May’s plans.
Mr Tusk hinted at a new approach, describing the Chequers proposal yesterday as a “positive evolution” that showed a “will to minimise negative effects of Brexit”. He limited his criticism to saying that some of the “proposals need to be reworked or further negotiated”.
His stance was in stark contrast to that of Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, who warned that Brussels and Britain were “far away” from a deal. Mr Tusk’s remarks were also at odds with those of Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, who has categorically ruled out British proposals on customs, a “common rule book” for industrial goods and on measures to avoid a hard Irish border.
Last night, at a dinner of all 28 leaders, Mrs May said that while Britain and the EU would not “agree on every detail” it was vital to “respond in kind” to the compromises that she had already made.
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