Thursday, 15 November, 2018

We need 'much more time' to reach Brexit deal: EU's Barnier

Brexit talks to continue 'in a positive spirit': EU Updated: UK prime minister says post-Brexit transition could be extended
Patty Aguilar | 19 October, 2018, 16:58

Meanwhile, his Sinn Fein counterpart Michelle O'Neill said Prime Minister Theresa May had refused to hold a joint meeting with the leaders of Northern Ireland's main anti-Brexit parties.

"If you look at some of the comments made - Chancellor Merkel has said where there's a will there's going to be a way, Mr Juncker said let's focus on the large areas of agreement and it will be done - there's a real sense that what we're doing is working to ensure we can do this deal within the legislative timetable".

Arriving in Brussels, German Chancellor Angela Merkel echoed the European line that "90 percent" of the withdrawal agreement was settled.

The starkest language came from vocal backbencher and former soldier Johnny Mercer, who used an interview with The House magazine to open fire on the leadership.

"We have identified all potential scenarios from a technical point of view", French President Emmanuel Macron said as the summit wrapped up.

"Brexit offers the prize of a better future, global free trade deals and political independence", said the letter. "The key element is a British political compromise".

"Mrs. May has been extremely committed and I'm convinced she will work in finding a political solution to get back to the European Union negotiators".

French President Emmanuel Macron noted the tricky "political balance" May faces at home - her vital Northern Irish allies say the EU's backstop, by keeping Northern Ireland alone in the EU customs area, would break up the United Kingdom; and Brexit hardliners insist the United Kingdom must leave the EU customs union soon.

She concludes: "How much they don't know about the past and if they do know, how little they care".

The two sides remain deadlocked, and this week's summit, which had been billed as a make-or-break moment, turned simply into a chance for Britain and the European Union to give themselves more time - perhaps until the end of the year - to break the logjam. They agreed to call a summit if Barnier decides there is "decisive progress" in the talks.

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British Prime Minister Theresa May had earlier addressed her fellow leaders, indicating that she could accept extending the post-Brexit transition phase to take the heat out the deadlocked issue of the Irish border. Both sides agree there must be no hard border that could disrupt businesses and residents on both sides and undermine Northern Ireland's hard-won peace process.

The negotiations on the Withdrawal Agreement have been fraught. It's a good idea.

"We have shown we can do hard deals together constructively".

But Mrs May has not come forward with the new "concrete proposals" demanded by European Council president Donald Tusk, instead telling fellow leaders that "courage, trust and leadership" are needed on both sides to find a solution.

Wednesday's meeting was supposed to be the European Union summit where leaders crossed the t's and dotted the i's of the UK's withdrawal agreement.

If agreed, the change would mean the United Kingdom remaining within the single market and customs union and subject to EU rules and regulations for nearly three years after the official date of Brexit in March 2019, and more than five years after the referendum vote to Leave. "These issues are still pending, but in the talks I had this morning with Prime Minister Theresa May, we encouraged one another to reach an agreement on two out of the four memorandums, those dealing with tax issues, which are the most flexible ones".

After talks with May on Wednesday, Varadkar said "we all recognise" that the British backstop would only apply until a trade deal is in place, so it would be "temporary, but can not be time-limited".

"We are all working, we're intensifying the work on these issues that remain", May told a news conference after a two-day summit in Brussels had ended. He acknowledged the feeling "may be a more emotional impression than a rational one".

"All of the 27 said that we wish to bring about a solution, one that clearly expresses the fact that Britain is no longer a member of the European Union, but also expresses what we all want politically speaking - namely that we establish a good relationship with Britain for the future", she told an end-of-summit news conference in Brussels.

While the transition extension may not break the deadlock, it energised her critics in London, who warned Britain could not be indefinitely tied to the EU.

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