United Kingdom and European Union fail to reach Brexit deal after crunch Brussels meeting
05 December, 2017, 01:55 | Author: Ora Austin
Dublin has claimed the United Kingdom government has not yet tabled a serious or credible plan to avoiding a hard border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland after Brexit, if the United Kingdom quits the EU's single market and customs union.
"We will not accept any form of regulatory divergence which separates Northern Ireland economically or politically from the rest of the U.K.", DUP leader Arlene Foster said.
An EU official, who will be consulted by Mr Barnier and Mr Juncker ahead of Monday's lunch with the Prime Minister, added "it was more likely than unlikely" that an agreement on withdrawal issues will be reached.
Speaking at a joint press conference in Brussels with Mr Juncker, Mrs May said: "We have been negotiating hard".
The UK government has repeatedly insisted many of these questions can not be answered until the next stage of Brexit talks - on a transition period and a future EU-UK trading and customs relationship - is allowed to begin.
Border agreements are still being decided in the move towards Brexit.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar is due to speak later today about "phase one" of the Brexit talks.
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Britain is set to leave the European Union on March 29, 2019 yet the progress on its exit and the terms of new relations have been painfully slow. "But on a couple of issues some differences do remain which require further negotiation and consultation".
There was even talk of Mrs May's set-piece lunch with Jean-Claude Juncker, the European Commission President, being used to thrash out the terms of a trade deal, with the terms of the divorce deal already in the bag.
"I hope we are in a place this evening where Irish people north and south will get reassurance from the wording that is very close to being finalised now". But the issues of the rights of expatriate citizens and the UK-EU border on the island of Ireland defied a deal until the last minute.
Meanwhile, Sinn Fein's Brexit spokesman David Cullinane told Sky News it is "crucial" Northern Ireland remains in the customs union and single market as "the only way to avoid the hardening of the border". "We have common understanding on most issues".
May depends in parliament on a pro-British party in Northern Ireland that rejects any deal which would divide the province from the British mainland.
"I still hope this matter can be concluded in the coming days", he said. "Getting closer to sufficient progress at December #EUCO".
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