DEBATE: Will the UK and EU be able to move to phase two negotiations after the summit this week?

British Prime Minister Greets European Commission President in Downing Street
Theresa May has to shine (Source: Getty)

Will the UK and EU be able to move to phase two negotiations after the summit this week?

Chris Cummings, chief executive of the Investment Association, says YES.

A great deal of work has gone in to the negotiations so far on both sides of the Channel – this has been abundantly clear from our interactions over the last year with UK and European policymakers. The challenge of untangling over 40 years of law and diplomacy has dwarfed even the largest regulatory supertankers that many in financial services were grappling with.

The Prime Minister’s Florence speech was an important step-change in striking a more conciliatory tone in the Brexit negotiations and to unlock phase two of the deal. Technicians and policy experts stand ready to start imagining the future as soon as they are given the green light by their political masters.

This alone will give businesses what they crave: certainty. Certainty to invest and certainty that we can continue to serve our millions of clients and customers in the UK and beyond after we leave the EU.

There are those who doubt a deal will ever be done at all, but if the last two years has taught us anything, it’s that politics is the art of the possible. And it is in the interests of all European citizens to make this deal a success.

Read more: Businesses warm to Brexit as fears of no deal recede

Walter Ellis, French-based commentator for Reaction, says NO.

“Will they, won’t they, will they, won’t they, will they join the dance?” Everything depends on how Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron feel on the day.

De facto, they are in charge.

They have each taken a fairly hard line on Brexit and will see moving on to stage two (or not) as a test of the re-engineered Franco-German motor that, in the manner of the DeLorean DMC-12, is intended to take Europe back to the future. Both have a certain sympathy for Britain, but neither is impressed by the shambolic contradictions that make up the Tory negotiating position.

Getting rid of the UK is for many Europeans a good thing, like kicking the cuckoo out of the nest. At the same time they want British money and the British market.

I doubt the summit will give trade talks the green light this time round, but anything is possible if the will can be found. Theresa May has to shine.

Read more: OECD: Reversing Brexit would give "significant" boost to UK economy

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