The European Union’s Brexit talks will be led by Britain’s prime minister on the first day of the annual European Economic Summit (EEAS) in Brussels, but will be attended by a small group of EU countries including Belgium, France, Germany, Italy and Spain, with the bloc hoping to strike a deal on the terms of its exit from the bloc by the end of March 2019.
The European Commission and the European Parliament will meet to finalise the draft deal, with Parliament expected to approve it by the middle of May.
The EU is hoping to conclude the deal by the beginning of June, with a final vote in June, possibly taking place on the eve of the G20 summit in the US.
However, as Brexit negotiations continue, the EU and Britain will be facing the risk of a second Brexit vote if the talks are not concluded on time.EU leaders have been pushing for the summit to begin as soon as possible, in order to avoid the disruption to the economy caused by the European Central Bank’s (ECB) decision to scale back its stimulus programme.
The ECB’s decision to pull back stimulus to the eurozone has seen unemployment rise sharply.
In an attempt to ease the pressure on the eurozone economy, European leaders have urged the British to agree to a date for the first phase of the talks to be held in June 2019.
However, the British are refusing to agree and are insisting that they will hold the summit in 2019.
Theresa May, the UK prime minister, is expected to address the EU leaders at the summit, but it is unclear whether she will have a chance to address any of the key issues before the meeting.EU officials said that the talks could continue until at least July, but that they were not planning on making a breakthrough on Brexit until after the G-20 summit.
“There are still some uncertainties, and the talks need to be conducted in a transparent way,” a senior EU official told the AFP news agency.
“We want to make sure that everything is done in a way that does not endanger the EU as a whole, the economy or the people of Europe.”
The EU official said that in the absence of a breakthrough, the negotiations would resume at the next European Council in 2019 in Brussels.
“We can’t have any doubts that the British government will not yield to pressure from Brussels,” the official said.