by Guy Faulconbridge and Robin Emmott
LONDON/LUXEMBOURG (Reuters) – An agreement mitigating the effects of the exit of the Uk from the european Union is still in the balance while the diplomats reported on Monday that the Europeans want further concessions from Boris Johnson and deem it unlikely that a covenant will be found by the end of the week.
Has 17 days of the theoretical date of the divorce, October 31,, the discussions that will unfold throughout the week could determine whether the departure of the British will be in an orderly manner, it will, on the contrary, in the disorder, or if the divorce will be once again pushed back.
The british Prime minister said since his arrival at Downing Street, in July, it will carry out “whatever the cost” to the divorce, agree or not, at the date of 31 October – even if a law passed at the initiative of the mps anti-“No Deal” of Westminster, he is forced to ask for a deferral if he does not get an agreement with the Europeans.
“An agreement is possible, and possible this month, maybe even this week, but we’re not there yet”, said the head of the diplomacy of ireland, Simon Coveney.
“There’s still a lot of work to do, I therefore hope that we will be able to make more progress today,” he added on his arrival in Luxembourg for a meeting of ministers of foreign Affairs of the EU.
European negotiators and the british met at the weekend. After the Luxembourg meeting, it will be the turn of the heads of State and government to take directly from the folder at the eu summit on Thursday and Friday.
“We are not very optimistic,” said to Reuters, one eu diplomat of high rank, to the point that the scenario of a new report is favoured today by the diplomats.
Johnson, who should expose this Monday his legislative programme in the framework of the “speech of the queen,” delivered before the Parliament, hoping to secure an agreement before the summit.
But he will then face his Parliament, where he no longer has a majority. The Westminster Parliament will be in session next Saturday, for the first time since the Falklands war in 1982.
Because the british Prime minister must deliver both parts at the same time: in the face of the European and in the face of his Parliament.
The main obstacle remains the border irish, and the question to solve can be summarized thus:
How to avoid that the 500 km of the boundary between the british province of Northern Ireland and the republic of Ireland would become the “Trojan horse” by which would transit of goods to the prejudice of the integrity of the european single market without erecting border controls that could undermine the peace agreements of 1998 which brought an end to thirty years of “troubles” in Northern Ireland ?
To try to break the deadlock, Boris Johnson spoke last Thursday with his irish counterpart, Leo Varadkar. In a joint statement, the two leaders said, “distinguish between a path toward a possible agreement”.
Varadkar went further. “I think, he said, that it is possible to reach an agreement (…) which would allow the Uk to leave the european Union in an orderly manner and that the agreement can be found by the end of October, even if it is far away from the cup to the lips.”
However, it is unknown what the two leaders are precisely heard. A Downing Street source said Saturday that the United Kingdom was still far from the conclusion of an agreement on the Brexit with the EU and added that the coming days would be decisive in order to avoid a “No Deal”.
“A customs territory as a hybrid that what the British are proposing for Northern Ireland does nowhere else in the world, it seems,” said to Reuters, a diplomat of the EU.
“With a system of the kind having two sets of rules for the same goods crossing the border, it increases the possibility of fraud, and it is extremely complicated to sort between goods heading to Northern Ireland and those heading further towards Ireland and the single market.”
(with Gabriela Baczynska in Brussels; Henri-Pierre André for French service, edited by Sophie Louet)