EU Commission sets Sunday deadline after 'no white smoke' on Brexit deal

Matt Dunham–Pool  Getty Images British Prime Minister Theresa May in Downing Street London December 5

Matt Dunham–Pool Getty Images British Prime Minister Theresa May in Downing Street London December 5

British Prime Minister Theresa May failed to agree a deal to open talks on a Brexit trade deal with the European Union on December 4 as the Democratic Unionist Party objected to proposals to keep EU rules in Northern Ireland.

But the European Union will only agree to this when enough progress has been made on the "separation issues" that have been the subject of negotiations so far.

"The Commission is satisfied that sufficient progress has been achieved in each of the three priority areas", the European Commission said in a statement.

"So far no white smoke".

The EU's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier has cautioned that the talks on the United Kingdom leaving the bloc will not shift to the next stage if London fails to arrive at a consensus on a text about the relevant deal in the next 48 hours.

Schinas dismissed British newspaper reports that the deadline could be extended into next week as "not correct."Diplomats from the other EU 27 nations are to meet on Monday and would need to see European Council chief Donald Tusk's draft guidelines for opening the next phase of talks then in order to approve them for the summit, he said.The EU has demanded "sufficient progress" on the divorce issues of the Ireland border with Northern Ireland, Britain's bill for leaving the bloc, and the rights of European citizens in Britain in order to move on to the second stage".

"In Northern Ireland we guarantee there will be no hard border", May told a press conference with Juncker.

He added: "I remain absolutely optimistic that we will reach a successful point, we will move on to the trade talks, because ultimately it is in everybody's interests for that to happen".

On Wednesday the Republic of Ireland's Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said he expected Theresa May to come up with a new wording aimed at satisfying all parties, adding: "I expressed my willingness to consider that".

But not all of them agree - and the pressure on the prime minister was underlined on Wednesday when 19 Tory MPs who back a "soft Brexit" wrote to her saying it was "highly irresponsible" for anyone to dictate terms which may scupper a deal.

The committee doubts exit negotiations will be completed by the scheduled departure date of March 2019.

"We didn't discuss the detail of any new language".

British Prime Minister Theresa May, left, is greeted by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker ahead of a meeting at EU headquarters in Brussels on Friday, Dec. 8, 2017.

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