An agreement on Brexit is "still very possible", according to Michel Barnier

The 27 are however dubious about the possibility of reaching a compromise by the European summit held on Thursday and Friday in Brussels.

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At the meeting on Brexit in Luxembourg, October 15th. JOHN THYS / AFP

If the possibility of a Brexit agreement between the United Kingdom and the European Union (EU) is not yet excluded, it seems difficult to close by Wednesday morning so that it can be endorsed at the European summit which is held on Thursday and Friday in Brussels.

"Detailed discussions are underway and agreement is still possible"explained the negotiator of the Twenty-Seven, Michel Barnier, Tuesday, October 15 in Luxembourg. An optimism shared by his British counterpart, the Minister for Brexit Stephen Barclay. But "It's high time to turn good intentions into a legal text"insisted Mr. Barnier.

A member of the German government told him "Dubious" on deadlines, after having been informed of the state of discussions with the British. "Significant progress is still needed"Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney also warned.

A "positive momentum"

Negotiators in London and Brussels are pushing the fires to try to reach an agreement before the date of the divorce, set for October 31, and that the British prime minister, Boris Johnson, says he absolutely wants to respect.

France, on the other hand, welcomed on Tuesday a "Positive momentum". "We hope for an agreement, but we do not know yet" if he will succeed " by this evening "said an adviser to the Elysee.

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"If the agreement can not be concluded today or tomorrow, the European leaders will then have to decide the type of mandate they want to give Michel Barnier", explained Mr. Coveney, for whom "It is possible to continue negotiations next week. »« (Michel) Barnier could say at the top: "I still have some work to do and I need more time." Nobody will be againstconfirmed the German manager.

More than three years after the referendum in June 2016, no compromise has yet been found to avoid an acrimonious divorce.

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Relief and concern

Opposing the agreement reached by her predecessor Theresa May, who kept the United Kingdom in the customs union until a new relationship between the two parties was concluded, Boris Johnson rejected it once in power and presented a new plan.

The current discussions focus on two points of disagreement: the way to avoid the return of a border between the Republic of Ireland, member of the EU, and Northern Ireland, part of the United Kingdom, all by carrying out customs controls, and the right of scrutiny granted to the Northern Ireland authorities on the divorce agreement.

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The announcement of progress is both a relief and a source of concern for the Twenty-Seven. Because after Brexit, the United Kingdom will be "A new competitor" at the door of the EU, Chancellor Angela Merckel warned on Tuesday.

Dutch and French have thus insisted on the need to prevent unfair competition from outside the Union which would use the border between the two Irlandes because London would not put in place the necessary controls.

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For Finnish Prime Minister Antti Rinne, whose country holds the six-month EU presidency, negotiations could continue after the EU summit. The assumption of an additional peak by October 31 has begun to circulate. "If it is not possible to conclude for the summit of Thursday, then we will see", commented the head of the Belgian diplomacy, Didier Reynders.


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