European Council (Article 50), Brussels, 20 October 2017

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Series Details 20.10.17
Publication Date 20/10/2017
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The 5th Round of Brexit negotiations were the last round before the important European Council, Brussels, 19-20 October 2017 at which the European Commission and EU 27 would decide whether 'sufficient progress' had been made in the first phase of the negotiations to permit a move to a second phase, which would include discussion of topics such as free trade, customs, justice and home affairs issues, and transition arrangements.

In an attempt to move the negotiations on United Kingdom Prime Minister Theresa May had given a high profile speech in Florence on the 22 September 2017 in which she attempted to set out how the UK would be the strongest friend and partner to the EU after the country left the EU.

European Council President Donald Tusk had met United Kingdom Prime Minister Theresa May in Downing Street, London on the 26 September 2017 for a meeting to discuss the state of the negotiations for the United Kingdom to leave the European Union.

After the meeting President Tusk said 'Today I would say there is no 'sufficient progress' yet'. However, he was cautiously optimistic about the constructive and more realistic tone of Prime Minister May in her speech in Florence on the 22 September 2017.

The European Parliament voted on a non-binding consultative resolution at its Plenary 1 session on the 3 October 2017 prior to the 19-20 October European Council (EU 27) meeting.

In the resolution MEPs said that sufficient progress on the EU’s priority aims, a prerequisite for negotiating any transition period or future relationship between the EU and UK, had not been achieved.

The government leaders of the EU 27 member states should postpone their assessment of Brexit on the 20 October 2017 as 'sufficient progress' had not been made on the three key aims unless the fifth round of talks on the UK’s withdrawal (9-12 October 2017) from the EU delivered a major breakthrough.

MEPs voted by 557 to 92 (with 29 abstentions) in favour of the resolution drawn up by the five major political groups in the European Parliament.

During the debate before the vote in the European Parliament Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European, had also indicated that there had not yet been 'sufficient progress' in the negotiations between the UK and the EU negotiators.As a follow on to the European Council held in Brussels on the 19 October 2017, the heads of state and government of the Member States of the European Union met in EU27 formation (EU Member States minus the United Kingdom) on the 20 October 2017. They adopted conclusions on the state of the Brexit negotiations.

To the disappointment of the United Kingdom government, the EU27 deemed that insufficient progress had been made on the EU's three priority aims (citizens’ rights, financial settlement and Northern Ireland) to allow for the second sequence of negotiations, including trade issues, to begin .

The issue would be examined again in December 2017 at the next European Council summit. However, internal preparatory discussions as to second sequence issues would begin between the EU27 and the EU Institutions.

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UK: GOV.UK: Prime Minister's Office: Speech, 23.10.17: PM's statement on October European Council: 23 October 2017
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UK: GOV.UK: Prime Minister's Office: Press Release, 20.10.17: PM's European Council press statement: 20 October 2017
BBC News, 20.10.17: Brexit: Talk of deadlock is exaggerated, says Donald Tusk
The Guardian, 20.10.17: Brexit talks: has the balance of power shifted and what happens next?

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