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Brexit: Barnier (EU), still disagreements and uncertainties after a new round of negotiations

Bruxelles, 9 febbraio: la conferenza stampa odierna di Michel Barnier (foto SIR/Commissione europea)

(Brussels) One more round of UK-EU negotiations has just finished in Brussels. As usual, the leader of the EU Brexit delegation, Michel Barnier, sums up what happened in the three-days’ meetings he had with his British counterpart, David Davis. Items on the agenda: Ireland, governance of the agreement, and transition. As to Ireland, the point is finding “solutions to avoid a rigid border” between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic. The text of the withdrawal agreement will mention “keeping the rules perfectly in line with the rules of the single market and the customs union, current or future, in support of north-south cooperation, economy all over the island, and the Good Friday agreement”. What it means “in practice” must still be defined “in regulatory terms”. What’s for sure, Barnier added, a “British decision to leave the single market and the customs union would make border control inevitable”. There is still disagreement on the role of the EU Court of Justice in the Brexit implementing mechanisms, which has been rejected by the United Kingdom. The EU and the UK are also divided by the problem of the short transitional period asked for by the United Kingdom: the length of such transition will be decided in March, but there are quite a few “substantial” issues they disagree about, which, “if they continue”, will impair the option to have such transition at all. An example mentioned by Barnier: Great Britain does not want the citizens who arrive in the United Kingdom in the transitional period to have the same rights as those who come before the Brexit agreement. And then: the enforceability of the EU’s rules in the United Kingdom during the transitional period.

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