The Prime Ministers of Great Britain and Ireland, Boris Johnson and Leo Varadkar, on the basis of the meeting on Thursday agreed to continue discussing the problems that hinder the achievement of an agreement between the United Kingdom and the EU on Brexit.
“The Prime Ministers held detailed and constructive negotiations. Both continue to believe that reaching an agreement is in the interests of all parties. They agreed that they can see the path leading to a possible agreement”, – the joint statement of the prime minister’s offices said.
The negotiations concerned mainly customs issues.
“They also discussed the potential for strengthening bilateral relations, including on Northern Ireland. They agreed to continue to ponder the issues raised during the negotiations. Officials will continue intensive work on these issues”, – the statement said.
On Friday, British Brexit Minister Stephen Barkley meets with EU chief negotiator for Brexit Michel Barnier.
At the moment, the situation around Brexit is at an impasse: the UK should leave the EU before October 31, the country’s parliament is opposed to the agreement with the EU in its current form, but it is categorically opposed to Brexit without an agreement.
The so-called back-stop is the main problem of the agreement between Britain and the EU. According to the current document, the backstop will enter into force in the absence of alternative arrangements after December 2022 and will provide for the preservation of a number of EU rules for Northern Ireland. This, in turn, may entail the need for customs checks on the border of Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom, and this, in the opinion of the British authorities, threatens the territorial unity of the country.
On October 2, Johnson proposed that the EU refuse to mention the special customs and border regime on the border with Ireland in the text of the Brexit agreement, and regulate trade and economic relations by the free trade agreement, which is proposed to be concluded until 2020, as well as a scheme that actually introduces a facilitated customs regime control on the irish border. At the same time, Northern Ireland during the four-year transitional period will be under the influence of European regulatory standards, after which the regional authorities will be given the opportunity to either return to the British customs and regulation zone, or extend the transitional period. The EU representatives reacted without great enthusiasm to these proposals.