United Kingdom unconditionally committed to protecting Europe, Theresa May tell troops

"That has been part of the negotiations that we've had".

The UK is "unconditionally committed" to European security despite Brexit, Prime Minister Theresa May told British troops stationed with North Atlantic Treaty Organisation in Estonia today, as EU leaders met to discuss the future of the bloc.

However British hopes that her initiative would enable the talks to move swiftly on to the second phase - including a post-Brexit trade deal - received a fresh setback after European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker said it would require "miracles" if they were ready to start before the end of October.

The Prime Minister will say during a speech in Estonia that Britain has the largest defence budget in Europe as she offers expertise to help European member states combat cyber threats. But EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said that Britain is refusing to settle bills beyond 2020.

The EU has maintained there needs to be "sufficient progress" on citizens' rights, Ireland and the financial settlement before the talks can include a future trade deal.

Downing Street revealed Mrs May noted the "constructive" response to her intervention, which had been "intended to create momentum".

One day after another round of negotiations ended with some progress in Brussels, Juncker said it was not enough by far for the European Union leaders to back moving to the next stage when they meet again in three weeks' time. Both sides said some progress had been made on the issue.

Mrs May has previously vowed to end the influence of ECJ judges over Britain.

Britain's leading business and union bodies jointly urged the British government and European Union on Thursday to guarantee their citizens' rights after Brexit takes place in March 2019.

Carolyn Fairbairn, director-general of the CBI, and Frances O'Grady, general secretary of the TUC, said in a statement: "After 15 months of human poker, the uncertainty facing 4 million European and United Kingdom citizens has become intolerable".

"Nato remains the bedrock of our collective security and there is no clearer demonstration of the UK's unconditional commitment to Europe's defence than the 800 British troops now in Tapa, leading a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation battlegroup and standing shoulder to shoulder with their Estonian, French and, soon, their Danish counterparts too".

"I set out what I thought was the future deep and special partnership we can build with the European Union and I look for the speech that I set out for that being reciprocated in proposals that the European Union will come forward with".

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