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European Union's chief Brexit negotiator Guy Verhofstadt arrives at a meeting on Brexit with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker (not pictured) at the EU Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium December 4, 2017. REUTERS/Yves Herman(reuters_tickers)
BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Britain and the EU have yet to strike a deal on an initial Brexit divorce package, the European Parliament's Brexit coordinator Guy Verhofstadt said on Monday after meeting the EU's negotiator Michel Barnier.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Verhofstadt put the chances of a deal when British Prime Minister Theresa May visits Brussels later in the day at 50-50. He said the Parliament was still pressing for more from London on guarantees for the rights of EU citizens in Britain.
Elmar Brok, another member of the parliament's Brexit group who attended the meeting, said there was a "very good chance" of a deal and that May's meeting with Barnier and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker could resolve outstanding issues.
Brok said he was "astonished" at how far the negotiations had come and that differences remained over "just a few words".
The EU was still pressing, he said, for the European Court of Justice to have a say on guaranteeing citizens' rights, while on Ireland there was "a difficult matter of wording" to ensure there would be a system to avoid border controls with Northern Ireland once Britain leaves the European Union.
Verhofstadt later issued a written statement. He said: "I have reiterated Parliament's priority: to make sure that the EU citizens living in the UK will not have to go through an unclear, arbitrary and burdensome procedure at great cost.
"Their rights must be guaranteed. They came to the UK in good faith to contribute to British society and must be treated with the respect they deserve."
(Reporting by Gabriela Baczynska and Alastair Macdonald; Editing by Alissa de Carbonnel and Peter Graff)