On Tuesday, European Union Brexit Negotiator Michel Barnier has said that a deal with the United Kingdom could be reached this week, but warned more tough discussion still recommended.
European Union and British Officials are fighting to reach a deal on Britain’s exit terms before a summit of EU leaders started October 10, as Britain Prime Minister Boris Johnson seeks to fulfill promises to take the nation out on October 31.
As PM Johnson arrived in Luxembourg to brief the other 27 European Union states on the state of the closed-door talks, Mr. Barnier hits an upbeat note cautiously.
Mr. Barnier told sources that “this work has been intense all along the weekend and yesterday because even if the agreement will be difficult – more and more difficult to be frank – it’s still possible this week.”
He continued, “Obviously any agreement must work for everyone – the whole of the United Kingdom and the whole of the European Union. Let me add also that it is high time to turn good intentions into legal text.”
After weeks of growing and gloom fears Britain would crash out of the bloc with no divorce arrangements in place, the last few days have offered a blink of hope that a deal can be reached – though there has so far been no conclusive breakthrough.
Over 3-years after the UK’s 2016 Referendum vote to leave the EU, talks continued on how to avoid customs checks on the land border between Ireland and Northern Ireland (ruled by Britain) that stays in the bloc.
The EU also had limitations regarding the proposed customs arrangements of London and the role of Northern Ireland’s Stormont Assembly in giving consent to the proposal.
London’s Brexit Minister Stephen Barclay will also join Barnier in Luxembourg in the early morning in what is being considered as a positive sign for progress in the talks that been covered in secrecy since the weekend as the two sides seek to avoid expected damaging leaks.
While referring to the role of the Northern Irish Provincial Assembly, a senior European Diplomat was quoted saying, “It’s not done yet but we’re trying. The British want a deal and they have moved on customs and Stormont.”
“We’ll have to see if it’s enough to be turned into a legal text. We must be cautious,” he added.