Posted on Oct 11, 2019
EU member states have given the go-ahead for chief negotiator Michel Barnier to hold another round of intense and secret negotiations with London in a bid to secure a deal, two senior diplomatic sources are reported by Reuters as saying.
Barnier and his British counterpart Stephen Barclay had earlier held what both sides called a “constructive” meeting in Brussels as Britain’s scheduled departure date of October 31st draws ever nearer.
Their meeting followed a burst of optimism after the British and Irish prime ministers said on Thursday they had found “a pathway” to a possible deal.
However, at the time of writing it remains uncertain on what terms the UK will leave, or even if Brexit will happen at all.
“It’s a tunnel with a very small light at the end of it,” one of the diplomats said, indicating there was not too much hope on the EU side that a divorce deal could be sealed before the end of the month.
EU ministers convene in Luxembourg next Tuesday prior to an EU summit on Thursday and Friday.
Diplomatic sources said Barnier disclosed few details of the latest EU-UK exchanges to the member states but that Britain was “more open” to address Irish concerns over arrangements for its border with the British province of Northern Ireland.
“There is movement on the UK side on both customs and consent that bode well for chances for progress,” said a senior EU diplomat, explaining the rationale Barnier presented to the national envoys to justify going into more intense talks.
No other details from the meeting between Barnier and Barclay were immediately disclosed.
“Be patient,” Barnier told reporters as he left the meeting and went on to brief the 27 EU states. “Brexit is like climbing a mountain. We need vigilance, determination and patience.”
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