Ahead of a crucial summit of European leaders, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier has offered a new proposal aimed at breaking the Brexit deadlock. The EU’s chief negotiator told ministers from the 27 member states that he is prepared to work on fresh ideas even at this late stage. According to the ‘Financial Times’, it has been informally suggested to the UK that the ‘transition period’ during which the UK will still operate within EU rules could be extended by a year. It is currently due to run for 21 months, up to December 2020. Such a move would allow more time for the UK and EU to sort out a new trade relationship, including a permanent way of avoiding a hard border on the island of Ireland. In return for the extension the EU wants the UK to sign-up to a legally binding ‘backstop’ that will keep Northern Ireland inside the customs union “unless and until” the border question is resolved. The Irish government argues that British Prime Minister Theresa May signed up to such a ‘backstop’ last March – but the EU and UK sides have yet to agree on the terms. In a bid to… Read full this story
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