Brussels - EU leaders are expected to express concern about a lack of progress in Brexit negotiations and call for preparations to be stepped up in case Britain leaves the EU without a deal in place, according to a draft summit statement seen by dpa.
Britain is negotiating with Brussels on the terms of its March 2019 departure from the EU, but little progress has been made on the thorny issue of the Republic of Ireland's border with Northern Ireland, part of the United Kingdom.
London recently presented a "backstop" proposal which should ensure no hard border on the island of Ireland after Brexit, failing an overall deal between Britain and the EU.
Lack of progress in negotiations
But EU negotiators have warned that the plan offers few solutions.
The leaders of the 27 EU countries without Britain are due to take stock of progress on Friday during an EU summit in Brussels.
They are expected to express "concern that no substantial progress has yet been achieved on agreeing a backstop solution for Ireland/Northern Ireland," according to their draft statement.
It insists on "intensified efforts" so that the terms of Britain’s withdrawal from the EU and the transition period after Brexit can be concluded as soon as possible.
The future of relations with Britain
Work on outlining future relations between Britain and the EU "must also be accelerated," the leaders are expected to say. "This requires further clarity as well as realistic and workable proposals from the UK," the draft notes.
Meanwhile, they will call on member states, EU institutions and stakeholders to "step up their work on preparedness ... for all outcomes."