In Brief

Brexit: Michel Barnier says deal ‘90% done’

EU chief negotiator insists securing an agreement is ‘possible’ - but warns that Irish border may still prove fatal stumbling block

The European Union’s chief negotiator has announced that a Brexit deal with the United Kingdom is “90%” agreed but warned that negotiations might still be scuppered by the ongoing debate over the Irish border.

Speaking to radio channel France Inter on Friday morning, Michel Barnier said he was “still not sure” that an agreement will be reached before Britain leaves the European Union, adding that the challenge was “possible but difficult”.

Referring to the Irish border question, he said: “From the beginning of the mandate that was given to me, we always said that it was an issue that needed to be resolved.” Barnier emphasised the “unanimity on the part of the EU” that there should be no closed border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

On Thursday British Prime Minister Theresa May and other EU leaders voiced renewed confidence that they could secure a Brexit deal, “yet the two sides remain at odds over how to deal with their only land border”, reports Reuters.

And while Barnier insists most of the other elements of Brexit have been agreed, some commentators fear a deal may never be sealed.

“Bless him, trying to pour oil on May’s troubled waters,” says ForexLive’s Giles Coghlan. “The problem is that the remaining 10% (the N.Irish border issue etc), is an absolute pain to solve. It’s like a political Rubix cube that may not be solvable.”

May has signalled that she would consider extending the Brexit transition period “for a matter of months” after Britain leaves the EU in March, to iron out remaining issues. However,Germany’s Europe minister, Michael Roth, has “poured cold water on the prime minister’s plan”, warning that “an extension alone does not solve the problems”,  The Daily Mirror reports.

“There is no reasonable solution yet over a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland,” Roth said.

Recommended

Deal or no deal: showdown Brexit talks resuming in Brussels
Brexit trade talks to resume between the European Union and the UK
In Depth

Deal or no deal: showdown Brexit talks resuming in Brussels

‘Rave reviews for Rishi Sunak’s budget may age quickly’
Rishi Sunak presents a post-budget press briefing.
Instant Opinion

‘Rave reviews for Rishi Sunak’s budget may age quickly’

Germany U-turns on Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine
German Chancellor Angela Merkel alongside Health Minister Jens Spahn
The latest on . . .

Germany U-turns on Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine

How many people need to be vaccinated against Covid to get life back to normal?
Margaret Keenan becomes the first patient in the UK to receive the Pfizer/BioNtech vaccine
In Focus

How many people need to be vaccinated against Covid to get life back to normal?

Popular articles

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 4 March 2021
10 Downing Street
Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 4 March 2021

Quiz of The Week: 27 February - 5 March
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle during a visit to Northern Ireland in 2019
Quizzes and puzzles

Quiz of The Week: 27 February - 5 March

Best TV crime dramas to watch in 2021
James Nesbitt stars in Bloodlands
In Depth

Best TV crime dramas to watch in 2021