EU Leaders Pressure May as Brexit Deadline Set: Summit Update

(Bloomberg) -- European Union leaders meet for a summit in Salzburg, Austria, with Brexit and migration on the agenda.

Raab Defends May’s Brexit Plan (8:15 p.m.)

U.K. Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab, not in Salzburg, defended the government’s plan in an hour-long radio phone-in. He’s trying to win over doubtful Brexiteers. “I don’t think it’s the sell-out that some people say,” he said. "It may not be perfect but it’s the most credible plan.”

He was also dismissive of the idea of a second Brexit referendum, saying it would encourage the EU to give Britain a bad deal.

Raab said there will be more “no deal” Brexit papers coming out next week. He also insisted that Britain will leave the EU on March 29, deal or no deal. “We don’t need to kick the can down the road any more, we need decisions.”

Varadkar Adds to Gloomy Tone (7:44 p.m.)

Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar adds to the negative tone, saying there’s been no progress in negotiations since March. Varadkar has generally been a bit more positive than other EU leaders in recent months, and has tried to be constructive about May’s plans for the future relationship.

So far in Salzburg, the message from the leaders and EU officials is clear: Time is running out, and the U.K. needs to engage with the issue of the Irish border. EU Council President Donald Tusk has also reiterated the EU’s opposition to May’s so-called Chequers plan for future ties.

Juncker says Brexit deal is still far away (7:15 p.m.)

EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said the U.K. is still “far away” from reaching a deal on Brexit. That comment may be designed to spur the negotiators, since EU President Donald Tusk is planning an extra summit in November to focus on the agreement.

EU to discuss how to ‘camouflage’ Brexit proposal (6:30 p.m.)

European Union leaders are expected to discuss how to “camouflage’’ their proposal for avoiding a hard border between the U.K. and Ireland after Brexit, to try to give Prime Minister Theresa May cover to compromise over the thorniest issue left in divorce talks with the bloc.

Kurz says time for the U.K. to compromise (5:22 p.m.)

The European Union’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier “has today made a step toward the U.K.,” Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz told reporters in Salzburg, Austria, before a meeting of EPP leaders. “Now we also expect the U.K. to be ready for a compromise.”

Kurz added that a deal could be agreed at a special summit in November, “but nobody can say if we will succeed.”

Summit in mid-November (3:58 p.m.)

European Council President Donald Tusk told reporters on Wednesday that Brexit talks are entering a decisive phase and that at Thursday’s meeting he’ll propose an additional summit in mid-November.

“Some of Prime Minister May’s proposals from Chequers indicate a positive evolution in the U.K.’s approach as well as a will to minimize the negative effects of Brexit,” Tusk said. “On other issues, such as the Irish question, or the framework for economic cooperation, the U.K.’s proposals will need to be reworked and further negotiated.”


Coming Up:

*Leaders attend party meetings from 4:30 p.m.
*They go into dinner at about 6:30 p.m. CET and will answer reporters’ questions on the way in

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