European Union says progress in next 2 weeks is key

European Union says progress in next 2 weeks is key

The U.K. government has two weeks to make concessions in its Brexit negotiations if it wants to pass on to trade talks this year, according to the EU's chief Brexit negotiator Friday.

In Berlin, Steffen Seibert, spokesman for Chancellor Angela Merkel said Friday that "it is indeed in Great Britain's hands to create the conditions that would make it possible" to move to the next phase of trade relations.

Barnier said: "I have to present a honest and real progress to the European council and the European parliament".

A British budget due on November 22 will, however, complicate the task for May in persuading hardline Brexit supporters of any need to meet Brussels' demand for tens of billions of euros to cover liabilities incurred in 44 years of European Union membership.

The clarifications should come within the next two weeks, Barnier said: "If that's not the case, then we will continue and that will pull back the opening of discussions on the future".

After another inconclusive negotiating session, both sides said differences remained on vital divorce issues including Britain's Brexit bill, the Irish border and the rights of citizens affected by Brexit.

David Davis said: "We remain ready and willing to engage as often and as quickly as is needed to secure this outcome over the weeks remaining ahead of the December European Council". "If we are to find a way forward it will require flexibility and pragmatism from both sides".

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The EU executive has said Britain will owe it around 60 billion euros when it leaves.

One thing that was clarified on Friday was exactly when Britain would leave the Union. But it was unclear whether that meant midnight in Brussels or London.

The government said it plans to enshrine in law the date and time of the U.K.'s departure - 11 p.m. on March 29, 2019 - as a protection against delay.

He added that progress had been made in certain areas, including citizens rights, which has been a controversial topic in the UK.

On the biggest hurdle to progress, the divorce bill, Davis simply repeated Theresa May's pledges from her Florence speech in September: to ensure that no member state lost out in the two years after Britain left the bloc, and to honour past commitments.

Apart from the citizens' rights and the financial commitment, the border issue of Northern Ireland is also one of the hot topics in the talks as the European Union wants to ensure its single market.

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