Brussels (AFP) – European officials warned Monday that Britain’s latest Brexit proposal cannot serve as a basis for a breakthrough before next week’s Brussels summit.
And with no draft deal on the table before the October 17 meeting, Britain and Europe will face either a chaotic breakup or yet another Brexit delay.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has insisted he will not ask to postpone Britain’s planned October 31 departure from the European Union.
But he may be forced to do so by a British law aimed at preventing a no-deal divorce, which would be potentially calamitous economically.
European negotiators are warning that time is running out.
Johnson’s envoy, senior diplomat David Frost, was in Brussels on Monday for more “technical talks”, and Brexit minister Stephen Barclay travelled to The Hague to meet Dutch officials.
Both heard that the latest British plans to impose alternative customs arrangements on Northern Ireland, to be reviewed every four years by the provincial assembly, are unlikely to convince.
“I think we all agree we need a workable solution now and not something based on untried and revokable arrangements that would be left to negotiation during the transition period,” EU spokeswoman Mina Andreeva said.
“As we have also recalled, the UK proposals presented last week do not meet at present the objectives of the protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland,” she said, referring to negotiating terms agreed in 2017.
“This is also the shared view of European Parliament, but also all member states,” she added.
– ‘More realism’ needed –
Meanwhile, after a “frank and honest” discussion with Barclay, Dutch foreign minister Stef Blok said “more realism and clarity” would be needed from London if talks are to go much further.
Earlier, in an interview with Le Monde, chief EU negotiator Michel Barnier warned that if London “does not come back with new proposals on the two serious problems we have indicated to them, I cannot see how we can move forward.”
Despite the divisions, Frost met with EU officials for technical talks on Monday. He plans to stay in Brussels to work up a legal text.