President of the European Council Donald Tusk says “no sufficient progress” has been made to move to the next phase of Brexit talks in Brussels, upsetting Prime Minister Theresa May’s attempt to move forward negotiations on future ties between Britain and the EU.
“We will discuss our future relations with the UK once there is so-called sufficient progress,” Tusk told reporters on Tuesday outside May’s Downing Street office in London after a two-hour meeting with her.
“If you ask me today… I would say there is no sufficient progress yet but we will work on it,” he added.
May said: “I think that by being creative in the ways that we approach these issues we can find solutions that work both for the remaining 27 but also for the UK.”
EU and UK officials are holding a fourth round of Brexit negotiations this week in Brussels which has seen little progress so far.
The European Council will decide in October whether sufficient progress has been made to begin trade talks, as the UK wants.
The EU has decided that current negotiations should aim to resolve the status of EU nationals living in the UK; the amount Britain will have to pay for the departure; and the question of what should happen to the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland after Brexit.
Only if EU leaders approve there has been “sufficient progress” on these three issues would negotiators be allowed to move towards the more complex issue of future trade ties between the EU and Britain.
The fourth round of Brexit negotiations started on Monday in Brussels, where the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier insisted that he would not discuss May’s call for a two-year transition deal until there was progress on the other issues.
British Brexit minister David Davis linked any settlement of the multibillion-euro bill to reaching a deal on future relations.
“There are no excuses for standing in the way of progress,” Davis said in a brief statement to reporters alongside Barnier at the European Commission’s headquarters in Brussels.