Merkel's conservatives see slim chance of Brexit progress by October

Reuters News
Posted: Sep 23, 2017 6:01 AM

BERLIN (Reuters) - British Prime Minister Theresa May's speech in Florence has failed to inject much-needed new momentum into talks on Britain's departure from the European Union, a top politician with German Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives said on Saturday.

May set out a plan on Friday to retain full access to the EU's single market for two years after Brexit to try to reassure business and reset the tone of stalled negotiations with Brussels.

Michael Stuebgen, European spokesman for the conservatives in the German parliament, said it remained unclear how Britain would meet its financial obligations under the EU budget, and that London continued to refuse Britons living in Europe access to the European Court of Justice.

"Theresa May's speech underscores the will of London to move ahead with Brexit negotiations, but unfortunately it will not provide a new dynamism in the talks that is so urgently needed," Stuebgen said in a statement.

He said May also failed to address the issue of future borders, especially in Ireland.

"On this basis, we can hardly expect the needed progress in the Brexit negotiations before the European Council meeting in October," he said.

German government spokesman Steffen Seibert declined to comment after May’s speech.

On Friday, before May spoke, Seibert told reporters a new round of negotiations due to start on Monday offered Britain a "fourth opportunity" to discuss specific proposals, reflecting growing impatience with the lack of progress in the talks.

The head of the German Association of Small and Medium-sized Businesses (BVMW) called May’s speech disappointing and said she had wasted an opportunity for a new beginning in the Brexit negotiations.

"What German industry needs above all is planning and investment certainty," BVMW chief Mario Ohoven said in a statement. "Looming customs duties and bureaucratic trade obstacles are exactly the opposite of that, and are already resulting in significant damage to the investment climate."

(Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Andrew Bolton)