Brussels and London rush the last hours before the leaders meeting to try to save the Brexit agreement


The negotiators of the European Union and the United Kingdom will continue the talks at the technical level in the next few hours to try to close before the summit of heads of State and Government of the EU on Thursday an agreement that saves the last pitfalls and allows an orderly Brexit.

Throughout Wednesday, several European leaders have tried to send messages of optimism about the prospects for solution despite the fact that the European negotiator, Michel Barnier, warned that there was still work to be done and key problems to solve.

Brussels and London rush the last hours before the leaders meeting to try to save the Brexit agreement
Brussels and London rush the last hours before the leaders meeting to try to save the Brexit agreement

In any case, the worst scenario of a traumatic rupture on October 31 due to the failure of the negotiations seems ruled out by the majority of sources consulted, who see more plausible other scenarios that go through an agreement or a new postponement of Brexit.

Efforts are focused on finalizing a legal text to present to the leaders at their Brussels summit, so that they could submit to the difficult vote of the British Parliament next Saturday and next week, to the full European Parliament.

This would allow, according to European diplomats, that the agreement was ready so that at the end of the month there was a divorce in calm, although for this it is imperative that Westminster, which has knocked down the withdrawal agreement three times, gave the green light .

If it is not possible to resolve the fringes to write a legally binding text and with feasible solutions in time for the summit, but there is consensus between the parties, the solution would be for the leaders to announce a principle of agreement that would be finalized later, thanks to a short extension of a technical nature.

Even if the negotiations derailed, the European Union is not afraid since the failure will lead to a “hard” Brexit on October 31, because they remember that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson would be obliged to request an extension, as Westminster demands.

This extension, warn some capitals like Paris, would not be “for nothing”, but should be conditioned to “fundamental political changes” in the United Kingdom, for example with the holding of elections.


The president of the European Council, Donald Tusk, said Wednesday that the “main bases of the agreement are ready”, although he has “doubts” about whether the latest problems can be resolved in time.

“Theoretically, we could accept this agreement tomorrow with the United Kingdom and avoid chaos and all disasters linked to an uncontrolled exit,” Tusk said from Brussels, in statements to the Polish networks TVN24 and Polsat News.

Later, after meeting in Toulouse (France), the president of France, Emmanuel Macron, and the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, were confident about the prospects for success.

“From what I've heard in recent days, I think more and more that we will reach that agreement,” said Merkel, for whom the negotiation phase is in the “final sprint.”

“I share the hope and the will to support an agreement that I hope will arrive in the next few hours. In any case, the echoes that come to us today are positive,” said Macron.

Meanwhile, Barnier, for days in the “tunnel negotiation” that keeps the technical teams away from interference to favor progress, has already met at the beginning of Wednesday night with the ambassadors of the Twenty Seven and with the group of the Eurocamera responsible for Brexit to take stock.

What Barnier has transferred to his European interlocutors is that “significant progress” has been achieved in recent hours, although it has not yet been possible to finalize a legal text that meets all the guarantees expected by the EU, as indicated to Europa Press European sources.

However, he remains optimistic because he believes that a solution that saves the agreement is still possible in time for it to be examined by European leaders at its summit on Thursday, so negotiations at the technical level will continue throughout the night .


The problems remain in the alternative system designed by the parties to replace the Irish safeguard that London flatly rejects, but which the EU sees as irrevocable to avoid returning to a hard border in the Ulster and to protect the integrity of the Single Market.

The main obstacle seems saved since London has assumed that a robust system is necessary for the customs control of Northern Ireland and that the principle of a border in the sea, between the two islands, instead of terrestrial, between the two irlandas , is “much more feasible”, summarized a senior diplomat.

However, the latest difficulties have to do with how to solve the VAT issue in the British region of Northern Ireland and the principle of consent that the British want for the Norwegian Assembly.

The possibility of veto for Belfast that Johson raised in his first proposal was rejected by the European Union, because it would allow this region to end the Irish safeguard from the day after Brexit.

In return, negotiators work on an alternative that would allow Stormont to decide after a first four-year safeguard period whether to extend this mechanism for another four or eight years, depending on the majority obtained by vote, or only two years if parliamentarians vote against.

In any case, if the negotiators manage to transfer to a legal text an agreement for Ireland and Northern Ireland satisfactory to both parties, the agreement cannot be taken for granted until it is verified whether the House of Commons gives its blessing.

Doubts regarding Johnson's ability to obtain sufficient support for a pact that is very close in its main lines to the one that May achieved will remain unknown until the British Parliament pronounced on Saturday.

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