In Depth

Salzburg summit ends: what happens next?

EU and UK deadlocked as critical summit comes to a close

Theresa May’s efforts to persuade EU leaders to back her Chequers plan for Brexit during a two-day summit in Salzburg appear to have failed.

Donald Tusk, the head of the European Council, has warned that the prime minister’s proposed economic partnership “will not work”, as it risks undermining the EU’s single market.

And although Tusk told reporters there were some “positive elements” in the UK’s blueprint, there is still no agreement on the Irish border.

The firm line from Downing Street, and one repeated by May at dinner last night, has been that the Chequers plan and the UK’s own proposal for an Irish backstop already represent big compromises, and that it is now time for Brussels to shift position.

May has said her plans represent the “only serious credible” way to avoid a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland.

The Times reports that the EU27 has been split over whether to accept the bulk of Britain’s proposals. The newspaper says a group that includes Holland and Belgium view the Chequers plan as a “positive step” towards reaching a deal - but that France, Germany and the European Commission remain vehemently opposed.

“Summit after summit, the biggest obstacle remains what happens in Ireland after we leave the EU,” says the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg.

As she notes: “After Brexit, the border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the island becomes the line between the huge European trading club and a country that’s on the outside.”

What happens next?

The UK is still due to leave the EU on 29 March 2019.

Salzburg was an “informal” meeting rather than a full European Council summit, so there is no formal conclusion from the talks. Tusk has said that October will be the “moment of truth”. If next month’s talks are successful, a deal could be formalised in mid-November, he suggested.

Eventually one side - or more likely, both - “is going to have to blink to avoid no deal, and Downing Street is hoping that the PM has done enough to get Brussels to budge more”, says The Times’s Matt Chorley.

Since the EU has more power in the negotiations, “it’s often assumed that the UK will end up having to ditch its resistance”, says the BBC’s Kuenssberg. Yet in the run-up to the Tory conference, “rather than showing any flexibility, the UK is sticking with its position”, she continues.

All the same, with a rough date set for deal day, that position “might have to evolve”, Kuenssberg concludes.

Recommended

‘Cost of living will decide race’
Today’s newspaper front pages
Today’s newspapers

‘Cost of living will decide race’

How Truss and Sunak would tackle a recession
Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak at a debate
Getting to grips with . . .

How Truss and Sunak would tackle a recession

What next for the UK economy?
Governor of the Bank of England Andrew Bailey faces the media on 4 August 2022
Today’s big question

What next for the UK economy?

Quiz of The Week: 30 July - 5 August
Governor of the Bank of England, Andrew Bailey
Quizzes and puzzles

Quiz of The Week: 30 July - 5 August

Popular articles

Will China invade Taiwan?
Chinese troops on mobile rocket launchers during a parade in Beijing
Fact file

Will China invade Taiwan?

Is World War Three on the cards?
Ukrainian soldiers patrol on the frontline in Zolote, Ukraine
In Depth

Is World War Three on the cards?

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 8 August 2022
10 Downing Street
Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 8 August 2022

The Week Footer Banner