Phase one covered Britain’s bill to the EU, the border with Ireland and the status of EU citizens in Britain.
After days of often fraught diplomacy, May rescued the initial deal last Friday, easing the concerns of her Northern Irish allies over the wording to protect a free border with EU member Ireland without separating the province from the UK.
Then, EU negotiators said the talks had made “sufficient progress”, a recommendation that will, barring accidents, be blessed by the leaders of the other member states.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said there was a good chance that the next phase of Brexit negotiations could begin.
“Progress has been made regarding the exit of Great Britain, but there are some open questions so it is good that we will talk about it tomorrow,” she said. In fact, diplomats say there is virtually no doubt that leaders will endorse the decision.
May’s success has won her some respite at home from political in-fighting between enthusiasts and sceptics of Brexit in her ruling party, and has reduced the prospect of a disorderly departure from the bloc.
But there are hurdles still to negotiate. May and her cabinet are due next Tuesday to hold a discussion of senior ministers’ competing views on Britain’s future outside the EU — to remain close to the bloc or forge a new path.