The Latest: EU says progress in next 2 weeks is key

The Latest on the Brexit negotiations (all times local):

1:05 p.m.

The European Union's chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, says both sides need to make progress in the next two weeks on divorce issues in order to be able to move on to discussing future trade relations from December.

The EU leaders need to decide during a Dec 14-15 summit whether "sufficient" progress has been reached on preliminary issues like the divorce bill to move the talks on to future relations, including trade. Britain desperately wants to move the talks onto the issue of future relations.

But since progress was slow again this week, Barnier confirmed that real advances in the talks must be made in the next two weeks to stay within striking distance for the next summit.

He said he needed "sincere and real progress" over the next two weeks.


12:50 p.m.

The European Union's chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, says no major decisions were taken on Brexit during the latest round of talks this week.

He said Friday that the two days of negotiations was about "deepening" the contacts on complex issues like how much Britain should pay to the EU and how the border in Ireland should work.

Barnier reported that the issues of citizens' right in each other's areas was making "some progress" but said that difficulties remain.

He said it was "imperative" to turn into concrete commitments British Prime Minister Theresa May's promise that Britain would pay its financial dues before leaving the EU.


12:25 p.m.

The official who created the rules for leaving the European Union said Friday that Britain can legally stop the process any time it wants before exit day in 2019.

As negotiators wrapped up another round of Brexit talks in Brussels, John Kerr, who drafted Article 50 of the EU's key treaty, said that "while the divorce talks proceed the parties are still married ... We can change our mind at any stage."

Kerr says the British government has misled voters into believing the process is unstoppable. British voters, and lawmakers, remain divided over Brexit.

Prime Minister Theresa May warned Friday she would not tolerate attempts "to try to block the democratic wishes of the British people by attempting to slow down or stop our departure from the European Union."

The government says it plans to enshrine in law the date and time of the U.K.'s departure — 11 p.m. on March 29, 2019 — as a protection against delay.