The UK has come one step closer to being granted sufficient progress on Brexit talks, with the European Parliament voting overwhelmingly in favour of moving onto stage two of negotiations.
In a vote this morning, the resolution that last week's joint report went far enough passed by 556 votes to 62, with 68 abstentions. That sits alongside Jean-Claude Juncker and Donald Tusk's recommendations from last week that the second phase should begin. It is now in the hands of the leaders of the EU27 member states, who convene in Brussels tomorrow.
A final decision is expected on Friday, although at this stage it should just be a formality. However, MEPs have stressed the need to negotiate "in good faith" during the next phase, following what some deemed "unhelpful" comments by Brexit secretary David Davis.
MEPs said talks can only progress "if the UK government fully respects the commitments it gave in the joint report and fully translates them into the draft Withdrawal Agreement", MEPs said, adding that Davis' comments “risk undermining the good faith that has been built during the negotiations"
The European Parliament also highlighted five existing issues which must be agreed before a final deal can be secured.
They are to extend coverage of citizens’ rights to include future partners - currently the British position is that it does not - as well as put forward a "light-touch, declaratory administrative procedure" for those citizens applying for permanent residence status. MEPs also want the European Court of Justice decisions on citizens’ rights to be binding, and the role of the ombudsman created to act on citizens’ complaints must be defined; the right of free movement for UK citizens currently residing in the EU27 member states to be guaranteed; and the UK’s commitments on Northern Ireland to be implemented.
MEPs also said a time limited transition period must be "based on sound and unambiguous principles and could take the form of an EU-UK association agreement".