BRUSSELS – The European Union and the United Kingdom did not manage to reach a deal on the conclusion of the first phase of Brexit talks, though they made significant progress, the European Commission chief and the Prime Minister of the UK said on Monday.
EC leader Jean-Claude Juncker and British PM Theresa May spoke to press following a meeting, quashing speculation that she had conceded for Northern Ireland to be subject to regulatory alignment with the EU in order to preserve a soft border with the Republic of Ireland.
“Despite our best efforts and something progress we and our teams have made, it was not possible to reach a complete agreement today,” said Juncker, adding that they agreed on most issues and only two or three still needed discussing.
Both agreed that a deal on the first phase of talks could be concluded between the end of this week and a European Council summit scheduled for Dec. 15.
The first phase of talks focused on the divorce bill that London may need to pay Brussels to cover outstanding payments, the rights of EU citizens in the UK and British citizens in the EU and the issue of the Irish border, which will be the UK’s only land border with the bloc.
“A lot of progress has been made on many of these issues,” said May, though she acknowledged that “some require further negotiation and consultation.”
Both insisted that they believed they would be able to conclude on a positive note.
Until the first phase of negotiations is complete, the two sides cannot begin trade talks.
May is set to meet with Council president Donald Tusk later on Monday.