October 17, 2018 / 6:47 PM / a month ago

UK's May had nothing new on Brexit for summit, but tone calm: Tajani

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - British Prime Minister Theresa May offered her fellow EU leaders no new Brexit proposals on Wednesday, though she appeared keen to reach an agreement, the head of the European Parliament said.

Antonio Tajani spoke after listening to her address in Brussels, where she is meeting the other 27 EU leaders on the talks, stalled over how to ensure a continued open Irish border after Britain leaves.

Tajani said May said she would evaluate an idea to extend the post-Brexit transition period by a year from the current cut-off date at the end of 2020 but that the British prime minister did not say whether she would favour that, or not.

“There is a message of goodwill, readiness to reach an agreement. But I did not perceive anything substantially new in terms of content as I listened to Mrs. May,” Tajani said.

“As far as we are concerned, the content is not yet acceptable. But the tone is of somebody who wishes to continue the negotiations and not let them break down,” he said on May’s comments, made to EU leaders behind closed doors.

Tajani said the European Parliament, which must endorse any Brexit deal sealed between London and the EU for it to take effect, was in favour of extending the post-Brexit transition period to three years from 21 months.

“Both sides mentioned the idea of an extension of the transition period as one possibility which is on the table and would have to be looked into,” he added.

“Mrs. May recalled the importance of a UK-wide customs territory... But we are defending the single market.”

May’s office had ruled out extending the period even though some members of the government had held out that possibility.

Reporting by Gabriela Baczynska and Francesco Guarascio, editing by John Stonestreet

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