London/Brussels (dpa) – Reports of agreement on financial services have fueled hopes of an early breakthrough in the Brexit negotiations.
In addition, the government in London received the green light for their budgets in Parliament. But Brussels put a damper on optimism.
British financial service providers should follow the United Kingdom and Gibraltar European Union membership referendum continue to gain access to EU markets, the London Times reported, citing government circles. Negotiators from the UK and the European Union have reached a preliminary agreement on all aspects of a future service partnership and data exchange. The regulation of the financial industry must be based on EU requirements.
EU Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier contradicted the presentation of the Times. In the short message service Twitter, he wrote of «misleading media reports». The EU is only willing to negotiate with Britain for access to financial services. The country leaves the EU at the end of March 2019.
EU diplomats also rejected the reports. The alleged progress was "pure wishful thinking of our British partners, which seems to obscure the total standstill of the negotiations for lack of British movement," reported the "Tagesspiegel", citing EU diplomats.
The UK-EU contacts are currently at a technical level. When the next meeting between Barnier and the British Brexit minister Dominic Raab could not be said, said a spokesman for the European Commission.
The government of Prime Minister Theresa May has at least one less concern: her budgets took the first hurdle in Parliament on Thursday evening. By a majority of 314 to 283 votes, the MEPs voted Thursday evening for the draft budget of Chancellor Philip Hammond. He had announced earlier this week an end to austerity and generous tax relief and injections of funds for the notoriously underfunded national health service NHS.
Previously, the Northern Irish Protestant DUP had threatened the household May fail to compromise with the EU on the delicate issue of Ireland. The head of government and her conservative minority government depend on the support of the DUP deputies. However, they were at first placated with a big cash blessing for their region.
Brexit Minister Raab expects that an agreement with Brussels on the UK's exit from the EU by 21 November may be in vain. This is clear from a letter from Raab to the Brexit committee. According to his ministry, there is still no fixed date for the conclusion of the negotiations. EU diplomats, on the other hand, told the Tagesspiegel that an agreement in December would be "a mediocre miracle".
The Brexit negotiations are at a dead end, especially with regard to the Irish question. So far, London and Brussels have failed to agree on how to prevent border controls between Northern Ireland and the EU member Republic of Ireland. It is feared that a strong border could again cause civil unrest in the fragile ex-civil war region.
Brussels has made an emergency plan (backstop) for the Ireland issue as a condition for a withdrawal agreement and about a two-year transitional period, in which next to nothing should change.
Brussels' proposal that only Northern Ireland should remain closely bound to the EU in an emergency is met with great opposition, especially from the DUP. A compromise could be for the whole of the UK to remain in the EU single market and in the European Customs Union for as long as the issue has been clarified in a trade agreement. This was agreed in principle with Brussels, so Raab. "An agreement on the details of the backstop should be possible." However, the condition is that the country does not remain bound to the EU indefinitely.