European governments started to thrash out a plan for close ties with post-Brexit Britain on Monday in the last week before they gather to sign their divorce papers.
Ministers from the other 27 EU members met in Brussels at the start of what Prime Minister Theresa May calls “an intense week of negotiations” ahead of Sunday’s summit “A painful week in European politics is starting,” Austrian minister for Europe Gernot Blumel, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency, told reporters.
“We have the divorce papers on the table. 45 years of difficult marriage are coming to an end.” The British leader has said she will be in the city herself this week to see the president of the EU commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, for last-ditch talks.
Neither May nor European leaders are keen to reopen the draft Brexit withdrawal agreement that was grudgingly approved by the British cabinet last week.
But both sides are scrambling to finalise a parallel political declaration that will set out a road-map for post-Brexit negotiations on future EU-UK ties.