European Union pressing United Kingdom to speed up Brexit negotiations

Prime Minister Theresa May, who said on Monday it was "highly likely" that Russian Federation was behind the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter, won support from some of Britain's main European allies and the European Union which denounced the attack as "shocking" and offered help to track down those responsible.

European Council spokeswoman Monika Panayotova said: "Though there has been a succession of speech we need more concrete proposals".

The EU and Britain are hoping to seal a deal this month on a transition period after Brexit this spring.

German companies are still preparing for a range of outcomes to the negotiations between Britain and the European Union, including the scenario of a hard Brexit in which no agreement was reached, Mr Lang said.

It called on London to at least agree to the continuation of current relations throughout a transition phase from March 2019 onwards to limit the economic fallout of Brexit. "Now we have the chance to reduce the uncertainty for companies on both sides of the Channel", said he, without specifying what the extraordinary plans would be.

He also insisted the other 27 member states were "firm and united" over the Irish border, adding: 'For us this is not an Irish issue, it is a European issue'.

The suggestion that the Irish border is a European issue was heckled by one MEP, who shouted: "It is a British issue". But Barnier said it dealt with the realities on the ground.

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BDI chief Lang said: "The minimum requirement for German companies is trade in goods without customs duties or quotas, ideally in a customs union".

German companies are still preparing for a range of outcomes to the negotiations between Britain and the European Union, including the scenario of a hard Brexit in which no agreement was reached, Lang said, adding that next week's European Union summit would be crucial.

"The UK is choosing to leave the union, the single market and the customs union, we have noted that".

The European Parliament's Brexit coordinator Guy Verhofstadt said talks he held with May and her Brexit minister David Davis last week had left him confident London would "see the advantages of such an approach".

"As the clock counts down, with one year to go, it is now time to translate speeches into treaties, to turn commitments into agreements".

"But you should not simply discard the idea of a customs union".

  • Darren Santiago