New British proposal for Irish border ‘step in right direction’: European Union source

Howard TerryOct 08, 2018

Today, after my long discussion with my guest, the Taoiseach, I want to say that the European Union is united behind Ireland and the need to preserve the Northern Ireland peace process.

He said: "The immediate focus of the Irish Government is on the pressing need for agreement on a Withdrawal Agreement, with an operational and legally-binding backstop".

Following talks in Brussels with Irish premier Leo Varadkar, Tusk said the European Union remained committed to securing a deal with the United Kingdom which maintained a relationship that was "as close and as special as possible".

However, he added: "I think we are entering a critical and decisive stage of these negotiations and there is a good opportunity to clinch a deal over the next couple of weeks".

The former prime minister of Luxembourg, whose appointment as commission president was vehemently opposed by Cameron and a significant number of United Kingdom newspapers, said in his latest interview that while he was determined to strike a deal with Theresa May he was not sorry that the United Kingdom media would be less of a significant force in Brussels.

He explained that the so-called "Canada+++ deal" was a far-reaching agreement on trade, internal security and foreign policy cooperation, which was "a true measure of respect".

Prime Minister Theresa May's DUP supporters are adamantly opposed to any solution which would see any divergence between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK. The EU is about freedom and human rights, prosperity and peace.

Dublin is trying to convince pro-British politicians in Northern Ireland that this would not amount to a constitutional challenge to the British province's status, prompting Coveney's remarks at a news conference during a visit to Warsaw.

Varadkar also met European Union summit chair Donald Tusk in Brussels.

With less than two weeks to go before a crunch summit in Brussels billed by the European Union as the "moment of truth" for Brexit negotiations, Mr Juncker gave an upbeat assessment of the chances of a deal.

A member of EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier's team briefed diplomats of the 27 states remaining in the bloc on latest developments on Thursday afternoon.

A tentative meeting has also been penciled in for November if there is still work to be done.

Mr Juncker told reporters in Austria that the current holder of the rolling presidency of the European council that recent days had provided some cause for optimism in the talks.

"Continued concerns over the Italian budget deficit and sovereign rating contrasts with what seems to be an improving Brexit outlook", Morgan Stanley analysts said in a note, pointing to possible further downside momentum towards 87 pence per euro.

The EU has feared such an arrangement could allow Britain to use Northern Ireland's special access to the bloc's single market to push goods that did not conform to high EU norms, and hence be sold cheaper.

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