European Union members give go-ahead for more intense Brexit talks

MANCHESTER ENGLAND- SEPTEMBER 30 Dominic Cummings senior advisor to Prime Minister Boris Johnson attends day two of the 2019 Conservative Party Conference at Manchester Central

THERE IS a sense of cautious optimism in the air today after Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said that yesterday's meeting with Boris Johnson has led to "a pathway to a possible deal".

The European Union says it has agreed with the United Kingdom to "intensify" Brexit negotiations in a belated attempt to reach a divorce deal ahead of October 31, when Britain is scheduled to leave the bloc.

The European Union agreed on Friday to enter intense talks with Britain to try to break the deadlock over Brexit, lifting financial markets with a sign that a deal could be done before the October 31 deadline.

European Union negotiator Michel Barnier says that he had a "constructive meeting" with British Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay and underscored the cautious optimism since Thursday's meeting between British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his Irish counterpart Leo Varadkar.

Details of Johnson's latest proposals have yet to emerge and it is unclear which side conceded ground at the meeting, but Varadkar told journalists on Thursday he thought it possible for a new deal to be struck by the end of this month.

"The UK has still not come forward with a workable, realistic proposal", said European Council President Donald Tusk on Friday, though he added that he had received "promising signals" from Varadkar.

"Both continue to believe a deal is in everybody's best interest", the statement said.

Tusk said "there is no guarantee of success and the time is practically up" but insisted both sides should use every opportunity available ahead of Britain's scheduled October 31 departure date.

He added: "Brexit is like climbing a mountain".


The challenge of keeping this border invisible - something that has underpinned both the local economy and the region's peace deal - has dominated Brexit discussions for three years, ever since United Kingdom voters chose in 2016 to leave the EU.

Without a deal, Mr Johnson will face demands from opposition parties to comply with the so-called Benn Act which would require him to request a three-month Brexit delay if there is no agreement by October 19. Even if, as United Kingdom officials hope, Brussels shows flexibility on the timeline, they have yet to enter the "diplomatic tunnel" of final text negotiations. "If there is a will, there is a way" she said.

The question of the Irish border - and the proposed "backstop" that angers Brexiteers - has become the most intractable issue in negotiations.

If a disorderly, no-deal Brexit can be avoided, the country's economy will grow at a relatively solid pace in the coming years with Ireland's GDP forecast to grow at 5 percent in 2019, 4.3 percent in 2020 and 3.9 percent in 2021, said CBI in its fourth Quarterly Bulletin of 2019. If it is time for the sake of time?

Following his "technical" discussion with Mr Barclay in Brussels, Mr Barnier told reporters: "Be patient".

In a tweet posted later, Barnier said technical discussions would be held in a "constructive spirit", adding that the European Union "will do everything it can for an agreement".

Following the breakfast meeting, Barnier began a briefing with ambassadors from the other 27 European Union capitals, seeking their input on entering political negotiations on a text.

The main stumbling block remains how the U.K.'s only land border, between Britain and Ireland, is dealt with.

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