The Latest: UK unions, bosses urge citizens' rights pledge

Markets Associated Press

The Latest on Brexit negotiations (all times local):

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4:45 p.m.

British trade unions and a major employers' group have issued a rare joint statement urging Britain and the European Union to end "intolerable" uncertainty for 4 million citizens affected by Brexit.

The Trades Union Congress and the Confederation of British Industry described the uncertainty over the rights of EU nationals living in Britain and British citizens living elsewhere in the bloc as "a blight on the values of our nations."

The groups say there must be "a clear guarantee" of the right for residents to remain "within weeks."

They say EU citizens make a vital contribution to the British economy and must be allowed to stay whatever the eventual outcome of negotiations between the U.K. and the EU.

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Chief EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said Thursday that the two sides have made progress on the issue, but a "big gap" remains in some areas.

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3:10 p.m.

The Dutch foreign minister says it is time for "concrete negotiations instead of daydreaming" in Brexit negotiations between Britain and the European Union.

Bert Koenders said Thursday "I don't think I'm the only one worried about the lack of realism we see on the British side."

Koenders was speaking shortly after the European Union's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said that talks on Britain's departure are weeks or months away from making sufficient progress, despite hailing a positive "new dynamic" in the negotiations.

Koenders says the negotiations need to move up a gear. He has told reporters in The Hague, "The clock is ticking. Big Ben may be still for renovation, but in Europe time ticks on."

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12:40 p.m.

The European Union's chief Brexit negotiator says that talks on Britain's departure from the bloc are several weeks or months away from making enough progress to expand them to future relations.

Michel Barnier told reporters Thursday that "we will need several weeks, even several months, to be able to see 'sufficient progress' on the principles of this orderly departure."

EU leaders insist talks must make "sufficient progress" on Britain's financial settlement, the rights of citizens hit by Brexit and the status of the Ireland-Northern Ireland border before they can be broadened.

Britain says that the status of future relations and trade are intertwined with those preliminary negotiating points and should be discussed altogether.

EU leaders, minus British Prime Minister Theresa May, must rule whether "sufficient progress" has been made.

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12:30 p.m.

The European Union's chief Brexit negotiator has hailed the "new dynamic in talks on Britain's departure, but is signaling that "sufficient progress" has not been made to discuss future ties.

Michel Barnier told reporters Thursday that British Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit speech last week brought new momentum to the negotiations, following a fourth round of talks in Brussels.

He said: "we have felt this during the negotiations this week."

But he said that Britain has not yet identified the financial commitments it will make as part of the divorce agreement.

Barnier said that "the only way to reach sufficient progress is that all commitments undertaken at 28 (member states) are honored at 28."

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12:20 p.m.

Britain's Brexit negotiator David Davis says talks with the European Union on his country's departure from the bloc are making progress, following a fourth round of negotiations in Brussels.

Davis told reporters Thursday that "we are making decisive steps forward."

He said that, in particular, a lot of progress has been made on ensuring the rights of citizens who will be hit by Britain's departure, due on March 29, 2019.