Merkel, who was re-elected with a comfortable majority in September, said she was committed to maintaining a "good spirit" in the negotiations, but said the British side needed to come up with more detailed proposals. Her assessment, in the early hours of Friday, October 20, comes during a summit of European Union leaders in Brussels.
"I have absolutely no doubts that if we are all focused… we can get a good result. I want very clearly a deal and not some unpredictable solution. We are working on this very intensively," said Merkel.
"Despite what the British press says, this is a process that is moving ahead step by step," she added.
Germany and France are heavyweight players in the European bloc, both economically and politically, and Merkel's words carry a lot of clout. She reportedly told Theresa May, the negotiations will not move on to the question of trade until December at the earliest.
But on Friday the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, suggested in a tweet that bloc's other 27 leaders meeting in Brussels had agreed to begin preparations for trade talks even though not enough progress has been made on the terms of the divorce.
Brexit conclusions adopted. Leaders green-light internal EU27 preparations for 2nd phase. #EUCO— Donald Tusk (@eucopresident) 20 October 2017
Settled in Secret?
But May refused to comment on those reports and said Britain would only agree a detailed financial settlement once its future relationship with the EU was agreed.
"The full and final settlement will come as part of the final agreement that we're getting in relation to the future partnership," she told reporters on Friday.
Britain is set to leave the EU in March 2019, but the amount it pays as a final settlement is one of the main sticking points in the negotiations.
"I have said that nobody need be concerned for the current budget plan, that they will either have to pay in more or receive less as a result of the UK leaving, and we will honor the commitments we have made during our membership," May said.
"There has to be detailed work on those commitments. We're going through them line by line and will continue to go through them line by line. The British taxpayer wouldn't expect its government to do anything else," she added.
"I've also said in the past that if there are particular projects or programs that we wish to continue to be a member of then of course we would look at paying relevant costs in relation to that," said May, whose precarious position as leader of the Conservative Party has led to suggestions the EU is preparing to open negotiations with the Labour Party in the event of her falling.