August 31, 2017 / 12:03 PM / a year ago

Brexit talks make 'concrete progress', UK's Davis says

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Talks between the European Union and Britain over its withdrawal from the bloc have made some progress, but EU negotiators need to be more flexible and pragmatic, Britain’s Brexit minister said on Thursday.

Britain's Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union David Davis holds a joint news conference with European Union's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier (unseen) marking the end of the third formal negotiation session in Brussels, Belgium August 31, 2017. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

“This week we’ve had long and detailed negotiations across multiple areas and I think it’s fair to say, we’ve made some concrete progress,” David Davis told a joint news conference, striking a more positive note than the EU’s negotiator who said “no decisive progress” had been made.

Davis, speaking after four days of Brexit talks in Brussels this week, said that on the issue of the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland, there was a “high degree of convergence.”

Davis said Britain had a duty to “interrogate” the EU demand that London settle its accounts, including for obligations stretching beyond its planned exit in 2019.

“We have a very different legal stance but as we said in the Article 50 letter the settlement should be in accordance with EU law and in the spirit of UK’s continuing partnership with the EU,” Davis said.

“We are a country that meets its international obligations and will continue to do so, but those obligations have to be well specified and they have to be real. They don’t necessarily have to be legal. We also recognised moral obligations sometimes.”

The British minister said that Britain’s approach to negotiations was for more “flexible and pragmatic” than that of the EU and criticised the EU’s two-phase approach - to settle divorce issues before talking about future trade ties.

“I remain of the view there is an unavoidable overlap between withdrawal and the future and they cannot be neatly compartmentalised,” Davis said.

Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop; Editing by Alissa de Carbonnel

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