Some movement on Brexit, Merkel says after EU summit talks

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel reported “some movement” on Thursday in talks between European Union leaders about an agreement with the United Kingdom on their post-Brexit relations.

“In some places there was movement, in other places there is still a lot of work to do,” she told reporters.

“For us, it is important that Ireland can continue to live in peace, that we secure the single market, but we know that Great Britain aims for a certain measure of independence, that it is no longer member of the European Union. In this spirit we have asked Michel Barnier to continue the negotiations,” she added, with reference to the bloc’s chief negotiator.

France’s President Emmanuel Macron (L) speaks with Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel (unseen) attend the round table of a two-days face-to-face European Council summit, in Brussels, Belgium. EPA-EFE/KENZO TRIBOUILLARD / POOL

“We have asked Great Britain to remain ready for compromise on an agreement,” Merkel added. “If necessary we have to live without (an agreement), but I believe it would be better to have such an agreement.” 

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will set out his approach to Brexit on Friday after his chief negotiator described the European Union’s latest demands in trade talks as disappointing and surprising.

Britain left the EU in January and the estranged allies have since been locked in complex negotiations to try to agree a free trade deal for when a status-quo transition period ends on Dec. 31.

The European Union on Thursday said Britain needed to compromise to secure an agreement.

The Financial Times reported late on Thursday that Johnson would emphasise talk of leaving the bloc without a deal but it also cited allies as saying he was in “no hurry” and would take time to assess the EU position.

“PM @BorisJohnson will set out UK reactions and approach tomorrow in the light of his statement of 7 September,” Britain’s Chief Brexit negotiator David Frost said.

European Union chief negotiator Michel Barnier is seen on a TV screen as he speaks at a news conference during the EU summit in Brussels, Belgium. EPA-EFE/YVES HERMAN / POOL

On Sept. 7, Johnson had set a deal deadline of Oct. 15 and said if none is agreed both sides should “accept that and move on”.

“Disappointed by the #EUCO conclusions on UK/EU negotiations,” Frost added on Twitter. “Surprised EU is no longer committed to working ‘intensively’ to reach a future partnership as agreed with (Ursula von der Leyen) @vonderleyen on 3 October.

“Also surprised by suggestion that to get an agreement all future moves must come from UK. It’s an unusual approach to conducting a negotiation.”

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