British, Irish leaders talk over phone on Brexit border deal

Remigio Civitarese
Dicembre 8, 2017

At the 14-15 December summit, European leaders will decide whether enough progress has been made in the negotiations on Ireland, the UK's "divorce bill" and citizens' rights so far to open trade talks.

The EU's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier has cautioned that the talks on the United Kingdom leaving the bloc will not shift to the next stage if London fails to arrive at a consensus on a text about the relevant deal in the next 48 hours.

Britain leaves the European Union on March 29, 2019, but negotiations must be wrapped up within a year to leave time for parliaments to endorse any deal.

The leader of the Northern Irish party propping up Britain's minority government said on Tuesday her party was just as firm about its demands for a Brexit plan for Northern Ireland as Ireland's government.

Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker's chief of staff Martin Selmayr tweeted a picture of white smoke - the sign used by the Vatican to signify the election of a new pope - shortly after May's arrival.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, the transport secretary said people had misunderstood the key term "regulatory alignment" which has been the focus of the debate.

Juncker told reporters Friday that "I believe that we have now made the breakthrough that we needed".

But EU sources said it was still possible that European leaders could agree at the summit next week that there had been "sufficient progress", in order to give May a win, while postponing their approval of the guidelines for trade talks.

As well as trying to appease the DUP, Dublin and Brussels, Theresa May also needs Conservative MPs to back whatever solution she puts forward.

He added he feared a lack of "regulatory alignment" would lead to a hard border emerging, not overnight but over a number of years.

Phase two of the Brexit talks will focus on the transitional arrangements that will kick in after the UK formally leaves the EU in 2019 and the future EU-UK trading relationship.

"If buying a bit more time means that we get a better outcome, which benefits businesses and citizens on both sides, a short extension of European Union membership may be a price worth paying".

The Government continues to insist it will not change the substance of what it says was agreed with the British government on Brexit earlier this week.

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