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Anastasiades heads to Brussels for EU Brexit council

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May and President Anastasiades (file photo)

President Nicos Anastasiades will travel to Brussels Saturday evening to attend the EU27 extraordinary Council Meeting on Brexit the following day at which EU leaders will meet British Prime Minister Theresa to sign off on promises to keep close ties with London, following the UK’s exit from the EU in March.

On the sidelines of the European Council, the President will meet with European Parliament President Antonio Tajani.

The President, who will be accompanied by Government Spokesman Prodromos Prodromou, returns home on Sunday evening.

EU diplomats and officials said there was still no clear breakthrough on Saturday morning, hours before some of the other leaders must set off for Brussels ahead of the breakfast summit – few will be happy if plans change.

Brussels diplomats and representatives of other governments across Europe said they did not believe Madrid would upset the careful choreography of Sunday’s summitry, when May and her 27 EU peers will fly in for a couple of hours in the morning.

Spain can expect its European allies to swing more clearly behind its 300-year-old claims to sovereignty over Gibraltar, also known as The Rock, a British naval base on its southern coast that is home to some 30,000 people whose economy faces major questions after Brexit.

But demands that extensive treaty documentation recently agreed between Brussels and London be tweaked to give Spain a bigger say over its implementation in regard to Gibraltar face resistance from Britain and EU allies who are wary that the whole edifice of the long-negotiated deal might unravel.

May is due to meet EU chief executive Jean-Claude Juncker on Saturday at 6pm and diplomats say that should be the moment they confirm that the Gibraltar issue is settled. May will then meet summit chair Donald Tusk.

In Germany, a government spokesman was confident a solution would be found in time for Sunday’s summit.

Berlin had earlier said there could be no more technical negotiations at the summit, and that Chancellor Angela Merkel could skip it if all the texts are not ready in advance.

The biggest obstacle to the Brexit accord overall is the vehement opposition in the British parliament. Without its approval, Britain could leave the bloc on March 29 without an agreement to mitigate economic and legal disruption.

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