EU parliament to denounce lack of progress on Brexit talks
The European Parliament is set to say Tuesday that Brexit divorce talks have made insufficient progress, in a blow to British hopes of unlocking negotiations on a future trade deal this month.
MEPs meeting in Strasbourg, France, will vote on a resolution calling on EU leaders to postpone a decision, scheduled for a summit on October 19, on whether to move on to the next phase of talks.
They will hear from European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker, who warned recently that it would be a "miracle" if the talks could progress in October, led by EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier.
While the European Parliament has little say in the negotiations now, it will eventually play a crucial role as it has a final veto on any deal for Britain's departure from the bloc on March 29, 2019.
The move comes despite a major speech by British Prime Minister Theresa May in Florence, Italy, last month offering concessions, and the fourth round of Brexit talks in Brussels -- which ended on a more optimistic note than before.
The resolution, backed by all the parliament's major political groups, says they are "of the opinion that in the fourth round of negotiations sufficient progress has not yet been made on citizens' rights, Ireland and Northern Ireland, and the settlement of the United Kingdom's financial obligations."
It also "calls on the European Council (of national leaders), unless there is a major breakthrough in line with this resolution in all three areas during the fifth negotiation round, to decide at its October meeting to postpone its assessment on whether sufficient progress has been made."
- 'Miracles' needed -
Leaders of the remaining 27 EU countries said in their Brexit negotiations guidelines in April that there had to be "sufficient progress" on three key areas of Britain's divorce before they would declare that talks can proceed to the next phase.
If EU leaders fail to do so at the October summit, their next full summit is not until December.
The three areas are the divorce bill the EU says Britain must pay, the fate of Northern Ireland, and the rights of three million EU citizens living in Britain and the one million Britons on the continent.
But Britain wants to start talks as soon as possible on a "deep and special" future relationship, including a trade pact, and a transition period of around two years to ease the shock of the divorce on businesses and citizens.
Barnier said after the previous round of talks last week that May's speech had brought a "new dynamic" to the talks but that it could be "weeks or months" before there was enough progress to move to the next phase.
Juncker, for his part, said at an EU summit on Friday that "there will be no sufficient progress from now until October unless miracles will happen."
The fifth round of Brexit talks is due to start in Brussels on Monday.