EU’s Juncker warns Britain ‘we are all Irish’ on Brexit

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, Prime Minister of Ireland Leo Varadkar and Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel during an European Council summit in Brussels, Belgium, 28 June 2018. [EPA-EFE/OLIVIER HOSLET]

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker on Tuesday (3 July) said the EU stood firmly with Ireland in Brexit talks, just ahead of a crunch UK cabinet meeting which he said the bloc will follow closely.

Juncker addressed the European Parliament at the start of a crucial week for British Prime Minister Theresa May who will gather her divided ministers on Friday in her latest attempt to find a common position on the trade relations Britain wants with the EU after Brexit.

“We have been waiting for months for the White Paper of 10 Downing Street and we will analyse it on its merits,” Juncker said in French, referring to the May government’s expected proposal.

“But I want to say here that we will not accept the isolation of the Irish question so that it remains the only unresolved issue at the end of the negotiations,” he said.

“All of us, we are Irish,” concluded Juncker, this time speaking in English.

Barnier: 'Serious divergences' remain in Brexit talks over Northern Ireland

Brussels and London have made progress on several technical sections of Brexit negotiations but “serious divergences” remain over the issue of Northern Ireland after a final round of talks ahead of this month’s European summit, the EU said Tuesday (19 June).

Juncker’s comments reflected the EU’s refusal to advance on trade talks until a breakthrough is found on the stalled question of how to avoid border checks between British Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland after Brexit.

European Union president Donald Tusk also urged May to deliver when she assembles her warring ministers at her Chequers country retreat.

“We are now looking forward to the White Paper from the UK, and we very much hope that it will bring the necessary clarity, realism, and impetus to these negotiations,” Tusk told MEPs.

However, Tusk concurred with Juncker that this must come with a satisfying answer on Ireland as well.

“The sooner we get a precise UK proposal on the Irish border, the better the chance to finalise the Brexit negotiations this year,” he said.

No trade deal before the end of Brexit transition, Verhofstadt warns UK

A new EU-UK trade deal will not be concluded before the end of a post-Brexit transition period, Guy Verhofstadt, the European Parliament’s chief Brexit negotiator, told UK MPs on Wednesday (20 June).

In the buildup to her make-or-break cabinet meeting, the embattled Mrs May met on Tuesday with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, which will be followed by a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday.

Less than nine months before Britain leaves the EU in March 2019, the government has yet to set out exactly what it wants, and progress in the negotiations remains slow.

Pessimism and general fatigue characterise final stretch of Brexit

Faced with a united and firm EU, the UK remains unclear on its projects for Brexit. Fundamental questions such as governance or the Northern Irish border are far from resolved. EURACTIV.fr reports.

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