The Latest: UK business seeks quick start to EU trade talks

BRUSSELS (AP) — The Latest on Britain’s Brexit discussions with the European Union at a summit of EU leaders in Brussels (all times local):

1:25 p.m.

British business groups are welcoming the EU’s decision to greenlight phase two of the Brexit talks, but warn that any delays in starting trade negotiations will add to economic instability.

In a joint statement, groups including the British Chambers of Commerce, the Confederation of British Industry and the Federation of Small Businesses say a delay in beginning trade talks “could have damaging consequences for business investment and trade, as firms in 2018 review their investment plans and strategies.”

They also want the U.K. and the EU to confirm details of a post-Brexit transition period, “to give businesses in every region and nation of the U.K. time to prepare for the future relationship.”

Phase two talks are set to begin in January. They are due to start by hammering out details of a transition period before moving on to future relations between Britain and the EU.

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12:35 p.m.

European Union leaders have given the go-ahead to Brexit talks with Britain to move onto the next stage, which will involve discussions over future relations and trade.

In a tweet on the second day of an EU summit, EU chief Donald Tusk said EU leaders “agree to move on to the second phase” in Brexit talks and congratulated British Prime Minister Theresa May.

The clearance provides a welcome boost to May, who earlier this week lost a key parliamentary vote over giving lawmakers the final say on the Brexit deal before Britain leaves the EU in March 2019.

In a breakthrough last week, the two sides agreed that the first round of issues in the Brexit talks had advanced sufficiently for now. These involved Britain’s divorce payment, keeping the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland open and sorting out citizens’ rights following Brexit.

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9:30 a.m.

European Union leaders are set to authorize a new phase in Britain’s departure from the bloc.

The expected clearance Friday to trade discussions will provide a welcome boost to British Prime Minister Theresa May, who earlier this week lost a key parliamentary vote over giving lawmakers the final say on the Brexit deal.

May received a round of applause from EU leaders Thursday night after giving her assessment of progress in the talks. Britain is due to leave in March 2019.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said Friday that “some of us thought, including me, that she did make big efforts and this has to be recognized.”

Malta’s prime minister, Joseph Muscat, said “there was appreciation from everyone,” despite concerns in the EU of developments in London.

This post originally appeared on Townhall

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