Habemus sufficient progress. Theresa May and Jean-Claude Juncker spoke of “give and take” as they agreed the two sides had come close enough on the divorce bill, citizens’ rights and the Irish border to move talks on to the second phase.
White smoke was gushing from the Brussels chimney tops this morning, as May swooped into town for an early working breakfast at Commission headquarters, followed by a joint press conference with Juncker.
So early in fact, that journalists were not allowed in to witness the fateful obligatory handshake photo in the Berlaymont lobby.
So what exactly has been agreed? Britain will pay its exit bill, the rights of citizens will be guaranteed on both sides of the channel – including the right to family reunification – and the two sides have agreed to brush the Irish border under the rug for another day.
After Monday’s humiliating take-down by the Northern Irish DUP sent the UK team back to the drawing board, today truly was the last chance for a deal this side of the new year. The concessions agreed to pacify the hard-line (UK) Unionists offer the comforting fiction that the Irish question is put to bed
For a clue as to why the EU thought it best to let this slide, rather than further weaken May at home by refusing once again, just look at the latest odds on who would replace her.
The very thought of a breakfast meeting with the likes of Jacob Rees-Mogg or Andrea Leadsom, or heaven forbid, court jester Boris Johnson, should be enough to leave Juncker & co. weeping into their cornflakes.
And for Britain, this latest development shines a light on an uncomfortable home truth: any deal is better than no deal.
Today’s agreement buys May some time but in order to get a final deal that protects the British economy without undermining Ireland’s hard-won peace and common travel area she will have to put the DUP in their place. Their demands are simply not workable.
In the meantime, there are more pressing matters to attend to. There is less than a year left to settle the terms of the future relationship – covering everything from farming to trade and customs arrangements, from aviation to the movement of nuclear materials.
As both Donald Tusk and Michel Barnier pointed out, this will make the first round look like child’s play.
A message from Eni: Access to energy is fundamental for the development of the countries in which we operate. In the Republic of Congo, the integrated Hinda project aims to improve the living conditions of the communities in the areas surrounding the M’Boundi onshore field, in the Hinda district, by reducing the proportion of the population that lives beneath the poverty level.
Irish business boss Danny McCoy speaks about dismal prospects from the UK’s decision to leave the EU. And Brexit-Skeptic Denis MacShane tells us why Brexit is a giant toad. And Domino pizza weighs in against Brexit too.
Cars will travel west, and cheese and wine will travel east after the EU sealed a major trade deal with Japan.
EU Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova disagrees with Spain’s suggestion to fast-track extraditions within the EU for an expanded number of crimes.
Poland swaps prime minister in cabinet reshuffle meant to push through controversial judicial reforms, the FT reports.
Italian far-right activists attacked newspaper offices, in a rising “black wave” of attacks.
Singing birds are part of Malta’s culture, and they are also a protected species under the Birds Directive. Trapping them remains illegal, writes Nicholas Barbara.
Meanwhile EU farmers are crying wolf against a resurgence of large carnivores.
MEPs ratchet up ambition but show division on the Energy Union package.
Council and Parliament agree on ‘flexible’ fishing limits for the North Sea. The agreement was welcomed by farmers and condemned by environmental groups.
After the EU’s tax haven list was criticised as slim at best, MEPs put in a bid to add four EU countries in an attempt to fight double-standards.
Bosnia-Herzegovina’s presidents visit Serbia – but a mention of Kosovo hits a raw nerve in the EU candidate country.
Look out for…
The agriculture and Fisheries council starts on Monday, discussing fishing limits and the future of the Common Agricultural Policy
Views are the Author’s