The week in Brexit: Key days ahead

EU sources say text of full withdrawal agreement will not be discussed as it is ‘settled’

When British prime minister Theresa May travels to Brussels on Wednesday to negotiate final changes to the political declaration on future EU-UK relations, she will be coming for a "working afternoon tea" (5.30pm local time ), not dinner, a spokesman for the European Commission said on Tuesday.

EU sources are adamant they will not be discussing the text of the full withdrawal agreement, which is “settled”.

Wednesday will also see the full commission briefed by chief negotiator Michel Barnier, and another meeting of EU ambassadors to prepare this Sunday's special Brexit summit to endorse both documents.

It is expected that the political declaration, on which work is continuing, will be published on Thursday, when it will be given to "sherpas" – prime ministerial representatives in town to give final shape to the summit. On Friday it is expected they will join ambassadors for a final meeting.


On Sunday leaders will gather at 9.30am for an initial address from the president of the European Parliament, Antonio Tajani. A working session of the 27 remaining states is due to start at 10am, followed by an hour-long session with Mrs May.

EU sources are expecting largely a formal nodding through of pre-agreed documents and no negotiation, certainly none in the session with Mrs May.

The European Council will “endorse” the withdrawal agreement, which will only be approved finally after ratification by the member states, the European Parliament and the UK parliament. And it will “approve” the political declaration, its own statement. The distinction reflects the different legal standings of the documents.

A press conference is scheduled for midday on Sunday.

Patrick Smyth

Patrick Smyth

Patrick Smyth is former Europe editor of The Irish Times