European and British negotiators kick off the latest round of Brexit talks today.
With a March 2019 deadline looming, Brussels has chided Britain for a lack of urgency after it framed the two-day conference as a “stock-taking exercise”.
After five rounds of talks, questions over Britain’s financial obligation to Europe have brought negotiations to a standstill. In exchange for a transition deal, British PM Theresa May has offered $23 billion to cover the current European budget round; Brussels wants at least three times that amount.
Under pressure to make progress, it was reported that May unofficially raised the offer over $40 billion. Given the Leave campaign’s promise to stem the flow of funds to Brussels and May’s precarious political position, a payment that large would be politically courageous.
British delegates aren’t expecting much progress from today’s talks. If headway is to be made, Britain will need to decouple the settlement of its financial dues from the discussion of a trade deal; indeed, Europeans are prepared to put off trade talks beyond December until this happens.
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