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We’ll Wait for U.K.’s Brexit Concessions, EU Leaders Tell May

Ian Wishart, Viktoria Dendrinou
The EU says negotiations on the U.K.’s divorce bill, the protection of rights of European and British citizens and the Irish border must make “sufficient progress” before leaders can allow talks to advance to trade

European Union leaders say they will wait for Theresa May to deliver further Brexit concessions and guarantees, putting into doubt whether talks will advance to the future trade relationship in December.

“If we have to wait for the new year, if we have to wait for further concessions, so be it,” Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar told reporters before an EU summit in Gothenburg, Sweden. He said a December breakthrough was still “possible” and “in all of our interests.”

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The EU says negotiations on the U.K.’s divorce bill, the protection of rights of European and British citizens and the Irish border must make “sufficient progress” before leaders can allow talks to advance to trade and the potential transition arrangement. May wants that to happen at a summit next month, but time is running out and the EU says the U.K. has still not done enough.

“The clock is ticking,” European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said before the meeting. “I hope that we will be able to come to an agreement as far as the divorce is concerned in the December council, but work still has to be done.”

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The U.K. has still not given assurances that it accepts it’s liable for about 60 billion euros ($71 billion) of past commitments while for Ireland, the government wants a pledge that “we won’t go back to the borders of the past,” Varadkar said. “We want that written down.”

As she arrived for the Gothenburg meeting, May said the U.K. is “continuing to look through the issues” for December. “I was clear in my speech in Florence that we will honor our commitments,” she said, referring to an address in Italy in September where she set out her Brexit position. The EU wants those “commitments” to be spelled out in greater detail in the negotiations.

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The U.K. and EU haven’t arranged any further talks between their Brexit negotiating teams. May spoke to Swedish and Polish prime ministers in Gothenburg on Thursday evening and will discuss with Varadkar and EU President Donald Tusk on Friday.

There’s still “some way to go,” Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven said.

Updates with comments from May in sixth paragraph.

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