EU 27 draft joint statement on Brexit at October 19-20 summit

FILE PHOTO: An official adjusts a European Union flag next to a Union Jack flag, ahead of a news conference by Britain's Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union David Davis and European Union's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier in Brussels, Belgium August 28, 2017. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - European Union leaders will tell Britain next week it must improve the terms of its withdrawal offer but will give London the prospect of a rapid move to free-trade talks in December if that happens, their draft joint statement showed on Thursday.

Following is the full draft statement on Brexit prepared for the EU summit on Oct. 19-20.

1. In the light of the first five rounds of negotiations, taking into account the assessment presented by the Union negotiator, the European Council:

* welcomes the progress made regarding citizens’ rights and invites the negotiator to build on the convergence achieved so as to provide the necessary legal certainty and guarantees to all concerned citizens and their family members who shall be able to exercise directly the rights protected by the withdrawal agreement, including through smooth and simple administrative procedures;

* acknowledges that, as regards Ireland, there has been some progress on convergence on principles and objectives regarding protection of the Good Friday Agreement and maintenance of the Common Travel Area, and invites the Union negotiator to pursue further refinement of these principles, taking into account the major challenge that the UK’s withdrawal represents, including as regards avoidance of a hard border, and therefore expecting the UK to present and commit to flexible and imaginative solutions called for by the unique situation of Ireland.

* notes that, while the UK has stated that it will honour its financial obligations taken during its membership, this has not yet been translated into a firm and concrete commitment from the UK to settle all of these obligations.

2. Building on this progress, the European Council calls for work to continue with a view to consolidating the convergence achieved and pursuing negotiations in order to be able to move to the second phase of the negotiations as soon as possible.

3. At its next session in December, the European Council will reassess the state of progress in the negotiations with a view to determining whether sufficient progress has been achieved, and, if so, adopt additional guidelines in relation to the framework for the future relationship and on possible transitional arrangements which are in the interest of the Union and live up to the conditions and core principles of the guidelines of 29 April 2017. In order to be fully ready for such a scenario, the European Council invites the Council (Art. 50) together with the Union negotiator to start internal preparatory discussions.

Reporting by Alastair Macdonald, Writing by Gabriela Baczynska