EU's Juncker hopes for Brexit deal in November

Cheryl Sanders
October 8, 2018

The European Union was offering Britain a "Canada plus plus plus" arrangement, Tusk told reporters after meeting the Irish prime minister, explaining Britain could have not just a free trade accord like that with Canada but also extremely close relations in security, foreign policy and other areas.

On Friday, EU Brexit negotiators told ambassadors of the 27 states remaining in the bloc that there was no breakthrough on the Irish issue and much would depend on what their British counterparts bring to Brussels next week.

The new proposal could revive talks that have been stalled for almost four months.

"This is a step in the right direction", said one European Union source close to the negotiations. "This window will not get any wider, so people on both sides feel now is the moment to get..."

"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".

"This would unite the Conservative Party, be a good deal for the country, deliver on Brexit and it is really hard to see why the Government is not embracing this", Rees-Mogg said.

Asked if a Brexit U-turn was still possible, Mr Juncker said: "That is in the discretion of the British Parliament and the Government".

She also stressed that Northern Ireland can not have any trade barriers with the rest of the United Kingdom from an economic point of view.

Some Brexiters overlook that the EU's version of a so-called Canada deal incorporates a guarantee to prevent a hard border on the island of Ireland, which would keep Northern Ireland in the EU customs union and single market.

He also acknowledged the importance of the EU for Austria, and said his country is actively involved in having a say on the European level.

The EU is expecting the UK's new proposal on the Irish border to land next week.

Theresa May is facing renewed calls to abandon her Chequers blueprint for Brexit after European Council president Donald Tusk said the offer of a simple, Canada-style free trade deal remained open.

A Canada-style deal would leave the United Kingdom free to strike its own trade deals with other countries, like the U.S., while handing back control of immigration. To help May sell the deal at home, formulations like "as frictionless as possible" might work, however, according to one diplomat.

European Union sources said yesterday that negotiators saw the outline of a compromise on the Irish border issue, raising hopes that a new British offer could unlock a deal with less than 180 days before Britain leaves the trading bloc.

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