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Theresa May to meet EU business leaders

European business leaders will meet Prime Minister Theresa May later on Monday to voice concerns about the future of UK-EU trade.

Experts from groups including the CBI and BusinessEurope will stress the need for a transitional deal that preserves the status quo after Brexit.

They will urge the government to clarify the future relationship between the UK and the rest of the EU.

The next round of Brexit talks is due to start in mid-December.

They will meet Mrs May at No 10, as well as Business Secretary Greg Clark, Brexit Secretary David Davis and Economic Secretary to the Treasury Stephen Barclay.

The CBI and the Institute of Directors will be represented, as will business organisations from France, Germany, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, Ireland, Sweden, Poland, the Czech Republic and Belgium.

But there are concerns that future trade talks could collapse ahead of December’s EU summit.

EU chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, has warned that the talks will only go ahead if the UK first clarifies its financial obligations to the EU.

Mr Davis has said the UK was “ready and willing” to engage with Brussels “as often and as quickly as needed”.

Shared input

The business leaders are set to tell the prime minister they want real progress on a future free trade agreement, as well as a transitional arrangement until that can be implemented.

Mrs May is expected to reiterate the UK’s commitment to securing an implementation period of about two years once the country leaves the EU in March 2019.

She will also ask the business experts to share their input on how the UK and EU can continue to thrive side by side in industry and economic development.

Image copyright AFP Image caption Michel Barnier warned of the possible collapse of upcoming Brexit negotiations

The BBC’s business editor, Simon Jack, says some UK business leaders in favour of Brexit are concerned that a transition period maintaining the current arrangements will delay and frustrate Britain’s attempts to strike new independent deals.

Our editor says that while hoping a deal with the EU can be achieved, some are concerned that the lack of progress so far plays into the EU’s hands.

They are therefore recommending the government uses its time to prepare for a “no deal” scenario which would see the UK trade with Europe on the same terms – and tariffs – as the rest of the world.

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