Published: Sat, October 21, 2017
Global | By Shelia Dennis

EU27 give go-ahead for second phase of Brexit talks


But Council president Donald Tusk said in a tweet: "Brexit conclusions adopted".

Earlier, in remarks delivered at the end of a dinner of butternut gnocchi and pheasant supreme, May sought to calm fears that Britain would use its departure in March 2019 to undercut the bloc's economy by lowering standards and taxes.

They are expected to tell Britain to come back and December once more progress has been made for another assessment of whether it is ready for trade talks.

But they took just 90 seconds to approve the start of internal preparations for post-Brexit trade and a transition deal, work that Tusk said would take Britain's proposals on future relations into account.

Mrs May, excluded from Friday's meeting, told leaders on Thursday that "firm progress" was being made.

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A European diplomatic source said: "May asked for a sign, we have given a sign".

In choreography that contrasted with images of May standing isolated in Brussels at previous summits, Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron were filmed by television cameras engaging the British prime minister in an animated conversation at the start of the summit.

Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel warned: "We are not going to delay the bill indefinitely".

"In contrast to how it is portrayed in the British press, my impression is that these talks are moving forward step by step", Merkel told reporters, dismissing suggestions from some in Britain that the talks should be broken off as "absurd".

British Prime Minister Theresa May urged her 27 European Union partners to bring new momentum to the talks, even as an interim goal was missed to widen the talks from the more immediate divorce issues to future EU-U.K. relations and trade arrangements after Britain leaves on March 29, 2019.

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May said the deal on citizens' rights was within "touching distance", and pressed her colleagues over a dinner on Thursday for "urgent" progress.

She said both sides share the objective of safeguarding citizen's rights.

"We must work together to get to a result that we can stand behind and that works for all of our people", she said.

Earlier Taoiseach Leo Varadkar noted that Mrs May had "strengthened" her language on the border but said the United Kingdom still needs to provide more detail on how the border will work in future.

The source concluded: "I believe everyone is aware of that and that is why we are optimistic that we are going to find a solution there - with theatrical rumbling".

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