European ministers signed off Britain’s draft divorce deal on Monday as they launched an intense final week of negotiations on future cross-Channel ties.
“The first, difficult step is done,” said Austrian minister for Europe Gernot Blumel, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency, after the ministers met.
Meanwhile, detailed discussions continue on a parallel political statement setting out the bloc's ambitions for future relations with post-Brexit Britain — and on a possible extension to the transition period.
Britain will leave the Union on March 29 next year, but remain within its single market for a further 21 months as negotiators seek a deal to avoid a potential breakdown in trade between the key economic partners.
If no deal remains in sight within this period, Britain can request a one-off extension.
May sticks to her deal
British Prime Minister Theresa May vowed on Monday to stick to her draft European Union divorce deal as dissenting lawmakers in her own party tried to trigger a leadership challenge.
Since striking a deal with the EU on Tuesday, May has faced the most perilous crisis of her premiership with several ministers resigning, including her Brexit minister.
May has pledged to fight on, warning that toppling her risks delaying Britain's exit from the EU or leaving without a deal, a step that could thrust the world's fifth largest economy into the unknown.
“We have in view a deal that will work for the UK and, let no one be in any doubt, I am determined to deliver it,” May said in a speech to Britain's premier business lobby, the CBI, to loud applause. The EU is due to hold a summit to discuss the draft deal on November 25. Reuters