EU leaders are set to refuse to move to the second phase of Brexit negotiations due to the the UK having not made “sufficient progress” on withdrawal terms, according to a statement drafted by Donald Tusk before next week’s crunch summit.
The move is a significant setback for the British government, who have appealed to the EU to break the current deadlock.
A one-page statement will be the main outcome from the summit, where the 27 member states will meet to discuss the course for the negotiations over the coming months.
European Union leaders are also expected to demand that Britain improves its withdrawal terms and offer London the prospect of a rapid move to free-trade talks in December if that happens.
In a substantial gesture towards British Prime Minister Theresa May, the draft says the EU should launch immediate internal work on possible transitional arrangements in order to be able to move ahead with negotiations on a future relationship as soon as possible.
“At its next session in December, the European Council will reassess the state of progress in the negotiations with a view to determining whether sufficient progress has been achieved,” the draft said.
Mr Tusk has discussed the strategy with all 27 leaders but the text may still change after the summit. Currently the draft outlines areas where that has been progress but also notes that more work is required for the divorce settlement.
Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, will also be advised to “start internal preparatory discussions” on a transition and the future relationship.