EU officials say political declaration with UK agreed

European Council chief Donald Tusk says document on future relationship with UK agreed in principle at political level

EU officials say political declaration with UK agreed

A draft document shaping post-Brexit relationships between the U.K. and EU has been principally agreed by the parties, European Council President Donald Tusk said Thursday.

“I have just sent to EU27 a draft Political Declaration on the future relationship between EU and UK,” Tusk said on Twitter.

He said EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has “informed me that it has been agreed at negotiators’ level and agreed in principle at political level, subject to the endorsement of the leaders".

The progress came following British Prime Minister Theresa May’s meeting with Juncker in Brussels Wednesday afternoon to finalize negotiations on the final declaration document. 

“We have had a very good meeting this evening. We have made further progress, and as a result, we have given sufficient direction to our negotiators,” May said in an interview with local media.

“I hope for them to be able to resolve the remaining issues and that work will start immediately. I now plan to return for further meetings, including with President Juncker on Saturday, to discuss how we can bring to a conclusion this process and bring it to a conclusion in the interests of all our people,” she added.

The prime minister will return to Brussels on Saturday in what will be an emergency meeting to finalize the draft withdrawal agreement and the political declaration it contains.

The emergency meeting was announced after German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she would be unwilling to negotiate with May unless she had a finalized agreement to present at the extraordinary Brexit summit on Sunday.

London and Brussels have signed off on May’s withdrawal agreement, a 585-page document that covers citizens’ rights, the £39 billion (US$49.8 billion) divorce settlement and the contentious Irish border issue.

May finalized her Brexit withdrawal agreement on Nov. 13, and although her Cabinet has reluctantly agreed to support it, it has faced mass criticism from within her party and from the opposition Labour Party, with two of her Cabinet ministers resigning in protest.

Following the summit, the final deal and the non-binding political declaration will face a critical vote in the House of Commons.

The U.K. is set to leave the bloc in March 2019.