European Union extends deadline for sufficient progress in Brexit talks

Laura Christensen
December 5, 2017

May, her Brexit minister David Davis and the prime minister's Brexit adviser Olly Robbins, will meet with EU Commission Jean-Claude Juncker, EU negotiator Michel Barnier and Junkcer's chief of staff, Martin Selmayr, for lunch.

Theresa May brought new proposals on the financial settlement, the Northern Irish border and the European Court of Justice.

Ireland and the other European Union members are demanding the United Kingdom provide details of how customs checkpoints and other border obstacles can be avoided before negotiations can move on to their next phase of discussing post-Brexit relations like trade.

In a joint press conference following the meeting, both leaders tried to put a positive gloss on the outcome, saying they were within touching distance of a deal.

Varadkar said he had spoken to Juncker following the failure to strike a deal "and he has confirmed to me that Ireland's position remains Europe's position".

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"I hope we are in a place this evening where Irish people north and south will get reassurance from the wording that is very close to being finalised now".

The EU and the United Kingdom are nearing agreement on some divorce terms, including the size of the bill that Britain must pay as it leaves and the rights of citizens affected by Brexit.

DUP leader Arlene Foster, who held a mid-afternoon phone call with May, had earlier taken to the airwaves after reports emerged of an agreement that would give Northern Ireland a different regulatory status from the rest of Britain. "We have common understanding on most issues".

According to a leak to the Irish state broadcaster RTE, the United Kingdom was willing to agree to Northern Ireland having "continued regulatory alignment" with the Republic of Ireland to ensure there was a continued soft border between the North and South. But Ireland and the other EU nations are demanding to know how that will work if Britain is outside the EU's borderless single market and its tariff-free customs union, a looser trading bloc that includes non-EU states like Turkey. But then Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party, which props up May's minority government, announced it wouldn't support any deal that made special rules for Northern Ireland. "The economic and constitutional integrity of the United Kingdom must not be compromised in any way".

The EU has demanded "sufficient progress" on key withdrawal issues - the UK's exit payment, citizens' rights and Irish border - before the second phase can start.

Other reports by My Hot News

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