File photo of Donald Tusk. Photograph:( AFP )
Tusk added that Britain's proposals on future relations would be taken into account by the EU's internal work on a trade deal
EU President Donald Tusk said Friday that reports of a deadlock in Brexit talks were "exaggerated" after leaders agreed at a summit to start internal preparations to unlock the next phase of negotiations.
Tusk added that Britain's proposals on future relations would be taken into account by the EU's internal work on a trade deal, in a further olive branch to British Prime Minister Theresa May.
"My impression is that reports of the deadlock between the European Union and the UK have been exaggerated, and while progress has not been sufficient, it does not mean there is no progress at all," Tusk told a news conference in Brussels.
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker played down fears Britain could leave the bloc without a deal in 2019.
"Our working assumption is not the no deal scenario, I hate the no deal scenario," said Juncker, standing alongside Tusk. "I want to have a fair deal with Britain."
Tusk said a face-to-face meeting with Theresa May and a meeting with the remaining 27 EU states had contributed to a more "positive narrative", despite the bloc saying there was not sufficient progress to start full trade talks until at least December.
"My feeling today and in my tete-a-tete with Theresa May, I feel for sure that both sides present only goodwill," he said.
The approval of preparatory work on a trade deal "would not be possible" without May's key speech in Florence last month outlining further Brexit plans, including on the bill Britain must pay.
"I would like to reassure our British friends that in our internal work we will take account of proposals present there (in Florence)," he added.