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Open Europe responds to the October European Council summit

The EU’s formal announcement that “sufficient progress” on the withdrawal arrangements has not been achieved was expected.  The next assessment of progress is expected at the summit of leaders on 14-15 December.  But the EU has decided to open its internal preparatory discussions on transition and trade, which is a positive development.

The real obstacle to movement appears to be the question of money, with a deal on citizens’ rights “within touching distance”, and discussions on Northern Ireland unable to progress much further without talking trade.  From a bargaining standpoint, the EU sees an advantage in extracting as many financial concessions as possible before opening trade discussions – they believe this is their point of maximum leverage.

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