Brexit deal talks dominate EU leaders summit in Salzburg


Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven, Slovenian Prime Minister Marjan Sarec, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Finnish Prime Minister Juha Sipila, Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite and French President Emmanuel Macron, front row from left, and, back row from left, Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov, Estonian Prime Minister Juri Ratas, British Prime Minister Theresa May, Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, Slovenian Prime Minister Marjan Sarec and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte poses for a family photo at the informal EU summit in Salzburg, Austria, Thursday, Sept. 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)

Borders and Brexit dominated an informal meeting of E.U. leaders. CGTN’s Mariam Zaidi reports on all the big issues dividing Europe, from the Austrian city of Salzburg.

Follow Mariam Zaidi on Twitter @zaidi_mariam

The small city of Salzburg, nestled between the Alps and on the border with Germany, provided the backdrop for an informal summit of E.U. leaders.

Host country Austria has more recently swung towards an anti-immigration drive. It convened the summit to focus on securing the E.U.’s external border. However, Brexit took center stage with six months to go until the U.K.’s exit from the European Union, with talks still deadlocked.

“Today, there is perhaps more hope but there is surely less and less time,” E.U. Council President Donald Tusk said. “Therefore, every day that is left we must use for talks. I would like to finalize them still this Autumn.”

Over dinner on Day one, the topic of migration was followed by Brexit. U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May ruled out a second U.K. -E.U. referendum, come what may.

“The Chequers White Paper proposal that we have put on the table for our future relationship, I believe this is the right proposal because it maintains friction-less trade,” May said. “It’s the only credible and negotiable plan that delivers no hard border in Northern Ireland and delivers on the vote by the British people.”

However, not all her E.U. colleagues were in agreement.

“Close cooperation with U.K. important for people, security. Today I see its necessary to make other steps as proposals aren’t enough to make an agreement,” Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel said.

May lingered in Salzburg, despite the other 27 E.U. leaders breaking off to discuss the Brexit state of play without her.

“There can be no agreement without a concrete Irish backstop,” Tusk said. “While we find positive elements in Chequers, it wont work. We will not dilute E.U. single market.”

All eyes will turn to the October E.U. leaders summit in Brussels. E.U. Council President Tusk is hoping that a Brexit deal can be delivered there. If not it rolls forward to an emergency summit, penciled in for mid-November.