Theresa May has flown back to London after last night’s talks, leaving the EU27 leaders to vote on whether or not to allow Brexit talks to move onto the next stage.
The Prime Minister was applauded by her European counterparts at a Brussels dinner last night after German Chancellor Angela Merkel thanked her for her efforts in Brexit talks.
The EU still wants more detail from Britain about her vision for the end state of Brexit talks but trade talks now appear to be on the horizon.
EU leaders have started to arrive at the summit this morning and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker was among the first to speak to reports.
Speaking about May’s round of applause last night, he said: “Some of us thought, including me, that she did make big efforts and this has to be recognised.”
Asked about the Austrian Chancellor’s comments that Brexit could never happen, Juncker replied: “That depends on the British Parliament and the British people – it’s not for us to decide what the British have to do.”
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8.35am: Ireland demands a timeline
The Irish Europe minister, Helen McEntee, has urged her British counterparts to offer more clarity on the transition period to allay fears of uncertainty on the continent.
She said the terms “no divergence” and “full alignment”, which have been frequently reported in recent days following the Irish border dispute breakthrough, “essentially mean the same thing” and added “maintaining full alignment… is a backstop” in the event that during the phase two talks, another arrangement won’t be found.
Asked whether a two-year transition period is long enough, Ms McEntee said: “We do need to put a timeline on it” because “business, Ireland and the EU need some sort of certainty and some sort of timeline.”
8.25am: Hungary hails ‘tough’ Theresa
Hungarian PM Viktor Orban has described Theresa May as a “tough lady” as he entered the Council this morning.
Orban, who has repeatedly clashed with EU chiefs in recent years particularly in relation to the ongoing migration dispute, described the British prime minister as a “wonderful person” and said she’s doing “very well” representing the interests of the UK.
8.10am: Maltese PM ‘concerned about London developments’
Joseph Muscat, the prime minister of Malta, is among the first to arrive and while he believes Theresa May has been “pretty constructive”, he admitted there had been some concerns about “developments in London”.
Asked how talks were going, he said: “Pretty constructive. We all expressed our feeling that we were grateful to Prime Minister May for her commitment.
“Obviously we were concerned at some developments in London, but we are totally committed from our side to deliver as soon as possible.
“I’m not here to give a blow-by-blow account [of last night’s dinner] but I think there was appreciation from everyone that we have moved forward.”
Finally on trade talks, he said: “The first real big step is for the UK to say what it wants – in clear terms. I think if this happens in the next few weeks we can start in earnest and by March we will have a very clear European position.”
Welcome to the second day of the European Council summit in Brussels, where EU leaders are expected to sign off on the first phase of Brexit talks and allow negotiations to move on to trade and the future relationship between the EU and the UK.
Theresa May flew back to London last night after being applauded by her European colleagues for her efforts to negotiate a Brexit deal.
The Eu leaders are expected to vote at around 10am to determine whether or not talks can move past the initial exit discussions, before a press conference from Jean-Claude Juncker and Michel Barnier where the result of the vote will be confirmed.