Macron and Merkel Agree to Keep Brexit Off EU Summit’s Agenda

Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron have agreed that Brexit negotiations should be kept off the agenda of this week’s summit of European Union leaders, a sign the bloc will resist making any significant last-minute concessions to the U.K. and will stick with Michel Barnier’s mandate.

The decision was taken during a call on Monday between Germany’s chancellor, France’s president, and the presidents of the European Commission and Council, Ursula von der Leyen and Charles Michel, according to two officials familiar with that call.

The discussion between the four leaders took place before a phone conversation between von der Leyen and U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson where the two agreed to meet in Brussels in coming days in a last-ditch effort to try and unlock a trade agreement.

Successive drafts of summit guidelines circulated to delegations ahead of the meeting and obtained by Bloomberg don’t include Brexit in the list of topics to be addressed. The EU’s European affairs ministers will finalize the agenda of the summit over a video call on Tuesday.

EU leaders have long held the position that detailed Brexit negotiations shouldn’t take place at a European Council. The agenda of this week’s leaders’ meeting is already packed with difficult issues, from the unfolding pandemic to new binding targets for carbon emissions that could have a transformational impact on the continent’s economy.

An EU official confirmed Brexit currently isn’t on the summit agenda and said Barnier’s negotiating mandate didn’t need to change.

With the prospects of a final agreement still in the balance, Brexit negotiations have made little progress in recent days as significant differences between the two sides remain on the issues of fisheries, a competitive level playing field, and how to enforce a deal.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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