Jack Quann
Jack Quann

16.29 9 Oct 2019


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The EU's chief Brexit negotiator has said the bloc is not in a position to find an agreement on Brexit.

Michel Barnier was addressing the European Commission in Brussels on Wednesday, ahead of a European Council summit next week.

He said proposals from the UK to avoid a backstop have not been properly developed or tested.

"To put things very frankly though, and to try and be objective... we are not really in a position where we are able to find an agreement".

"The thing is though time is pressing: we are one week away from the European Council summit and just a few days away from the date of October 31st - which was agreed with the previous government to be the exit date of the UK from the EU in an orderly manner".

He said the UK's proposals to avoid a backstop have led to three main concerns, especially around the border.

"In order to resolve the issue of customs checks, the UK is simply proposing... to take measures so that we avoid any kind of physical infrastructure or checks on the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland.

"Obviously we also want to achieve this objective: this is one of the objectives of the backstop, to avoid having this border or this infrastructure on the border.

"But what we are being asked for in reality is to accept a system that hasn't been properly developed, that hasn't been tested.

"There will be controls spread out across Ireland, and it will largely be based on exemptions and derogations on technology that has yet to be developed".

He also tweeted: "We are not there in #Brexit talks. EU unity confirmed in @Europarl_EN #EPlenary, alongside @JunckerEU.

"We will remain calm, constructive, respectful. We need real, credible solutions for the island of Ireland.

"Finding an agreement is difficult, but still possible."

While speaking in the Dáil on Wednesday, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said Ireland has been "forewarned" over a no-deal Brexit.

He said: "We are now 22 days away from the possibility of a no-deal Brexit, and everyone in the country knows the dangers and challenges we face.

"We are forewarned - and our objective in Budget 2020 is to make sure we are forearmed."

"It is our economic strategy to channel our growth and prosperity to prepare for an uncertain future, while at the same time continuing to grow and prosper, albeit more cautiously."

Mr Varadkar will meet the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Thursday in England for a closed-door meeting to discuss Brexit.


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Backstop Brexit Brexit Agreement Brussels Customs Checks European Commission European Council Summit Irish Border Michel Barnier

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