The European Commission says British Prime Minister Theresa May has till Sunday to come to Brussels with new Brexit proposals, to leave enough time for discussions on future trade relations to begin coming week.
The EU wanted clarity on three key aspects of Britain’s departure before agreeing to start talks on future relations, a step that London hopes to achieve at a summit of EU leaders from Dec. 14 to Dec. 15.
However, May’s proposals have become mired in domestic opposition.
“Talks between Brussels and London are still ongoing, but so far there is “no white smoke”.
“In this building we work for a full week 24/7, and our week includes Sunday,’’ commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas said, adding that May would have to come back with proposals “this week.’’
According to Schinas, a deadline extension into coming week is not correct, adding that senior EU diplomats will be meeting on Monday to prepare for the summit.
A breakthrough had been expected on Monday, when May met commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.
However, last-minute disagreement emerged over the sticky issue of Northern Ireland’s border with the Republic of Ireland, one of the three areas in which progress are needed before trade talks can begin.
The other two issues are citizens’ rights post-Brexit and Britain’s outstanding financial obligations to the EU.
Time is of the essence, with Britain due to leave the bloc in March 2019.
“Every day lost makes this more difficult,’’ Schinas said of the negotiations.