May 20, 2018

No big progress on Brexit since March - EU's Barnier

15 May 2018, 06:41 | Taylor George

Operation Atalanta which focuses on protecting ships in Somalia from pirates is run from Northwood in LondonSTEPHANE DE SAKUTIN AFP GETTY IMAGES

Operation Atalanta which focuses on protecting ships in Somalia from pirates is run from Northwood in London

May's spokesman, however, said the "focus is on getting this right" rather than meeting a deadline.

"Barnier (the EU's chief Brexit negotiator) was more pessimistic than I have ever heard him be".

However, the current model for third country participation offers a more limited role for the United Kingdom after Brexit than that envisaged by the government, it noted.

Quest says Britain can't have an open Northern Irish border without allowing freedom of movement.

The deal could include regular British-EU foreign policy talks, cooperation on military and aid missions, cooperation on defence projects and intelligence sharing, Barnier said.

"October is only five months from away, but and some key issues related to the withdrawal agreement need to be settled".

Zakharieva, who chaired the meeting as part of Bulgaria holding the six-month rotating presidency, said that the ministers are looking forward to more intensive engagement by the United Kingdom government in the coming weeks.

Mr Barnier added: "The clock is ticking and we have to conclude and to finalise this agreement. before October or November, because we have to keep the time for the ratification by the European Parliament, the European Council and the British side". "We have had first exploratory discussions", he said.

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"I just can't see how it works if there are no checks on the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland and no checks on goods travelling from Northern Ireland to Great Britain, which itself raises a number of political questions that are hard to resolve".

Mrs May's spokesman said London was working on two options for post-Brexit customs cooperation.

The proposal would see Britain essentially act as the EU's tariff collector.

The EU has said London must come up with a solution for the Irish border and highlights that has not happened.

'On the European Union side, if they see divisions in the open, they will exploit that'.

The Brexit schedule is tightening, sources said, which helps the European Union negotiating strategy to pile pressure on London before the June summit but mostly is due to lack of substantial headway in the talks.

The Cabinet minister said the United Kingdom is introducing measures to ensure there is "no issue our way" but acknowledged the Irish government could "put barriers in the way of trade". "I very much hope we will agree but there are no guarantees, unfortunately".

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