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Juncker says that the risk of a caustic Brexit is “very real” but believes that “the agreement is still possible”

September 18, 2019

BRUSSELS, Sep. 18 (EUROPE PRESS) –

The president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, acknowledged on Wednesday that the risk of a chaotic Brexit on October 31 is “very real”, although he added that he believes that “the agreement is still possible” if the British government presents clear and credible proposals to overcome the pitfalls that block divorce negotiated for almost three years.

“The risk of the lack of agreement remains very real. That is perhaps the decision of the Government of the United Kingdom, but it will never be of the European Union. That is why I want to focus on what we can do to achieve an agreement that I believe desirable. and that I think is still possible, “Juncker said in a debate on Brexit in the plenary session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

Juncker met Monday with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson at a working lunch in Luxembourg where the negotiating leaders of both sides were also present.

The head of the community Executive – who has defined the meeting as “partly” positive, “friendly and constructive” – ​​has pointed out that Johnson moved him that he is still willing to seek the agreement, but that, “whatever happens”, The United Kingdom will leave the European Union on October 31, “with or without agreement.”

The safeguard to avoid the return to a physical border between Ireland and Northern Ireland, the so-called 'backstop', remains the main obstacle because for the EU it is an indispensable “safety net”, but London rejects it flat.

Juncker recalled that despite his rejection, the Johnson Government has not presented any credible and “legally operational” alternative, and that it will only be possible to move forward in technical and political negotiations if the 'premier' presents detailed, viable and ” written”.

In addition, Juncker has stressed before MEPs that he has no “emotional attachment” to the security network defended by Brussels, but to the objectives he pursues to protect the Good Friday Peace Agreements in the Ulster and the Single Market.

Therefore, he added, the European Commission is willing to work “day and night” to find “technical and political solutions” with London and allow an orderly exit at the end of October. “I am not sure that we succeed, there is little time left, but I think we should try,” he has settled.

“It is not enough to tell us why the backstop should be suppressed, we need legally operational solutions in the withdrawal agreement to respond precisely to each of the problems and avoid each of the risks created by Brexit,” he added , for its part, the European negotiator, Michel Barnier, in the same debate.

The French politician has stressed that Ireland is the most vulnerable member state against Brexit because of its land border with British territory and that the safeguard is intended to have an instrument of last resort to protect itself.

“The reason for our insistence is not ideological, it never was. It is totally pragmatic,” insists Barnier, who has warned that EU priorities remain to protect the rights of citizens, ensure that the United Kingdom fulfills its obligations budget with the EU and avoid a 'hard' border in the Ulster.

Therefore, he warned, even if the negotiated agreement is frustrated for almost three years and there is a divorce from the brave, the red lines of the community bloc will remain the same and must be resolved in the future, if the United Kingdom wants to negotiate a framework of ambitious future relationships.

The plenary session of the European Parliament will approve on Wednesday a resolution on Brexit agreed by the main political groups, which highlights the unity of the Twenty-seven in this crisis, it is warned that the European Parliament will not accept any agreement without safeguard for Ireland and it reaches out to a new extension if it is for the United Kingdom to call new elections or a referendum.