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December 2018
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Wednesday, 19 September 2018 18:00

October is ‘Moment of Truth’ for Brexit, Michel Barnier

October is ‘Moment of Truth’ for Brexit, Michel Barnier

The U.K. and the European Union signaled their readiness to work to break the deadlock in Brexit talks as Prime Minister Theresa May prepared for a crucial summit aiming to persuade EU leaders to back her plans, Caspian Energy News ( reports with reference to Bloomberg.

The bloc’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, repeated his offer to re-write his blueprint for avoiding a hard border between the U.K. and Ireland -- the issue that has held up progress in negotiations since March. The British premier initially rejected Barnier’s original plan as “unacceptable” because it involved keeping Northern Ireland in the EU’s customs territory.

Over dinner with her fellow EU leaders in Salzburg, Austria, on Wednesday, May will hammer home her message that carving out a piece of U.K. territory will never be an option, but she’ll insist she’s committed to reaching an agreement if better terms are proposed, according to a senior U.K. official.

 “Our proposal for the backstop for Ireland and Northern Ireland has been on the table since February,” Barnier told reporters in Brussels on Tuesday. “We are ready to improve this proposal.”

The positive signs on resolving the Irish border question emerged as time runs out for the two sides to finalize the terms of the U.K.’s divorce.

“October will be the moment of truth,” Barnier said. “It’s then we will see whether the agreement we’re hoping for will be within our grasp.”

At the gathering in Salzburg, leaders are expected to discuss holding an extra summit in November to sign off on the Brexit agreement. Both sides admit they won’t hit their original deadline -- their meeting in mid-October -- but say time remains tight to allow approval by both the British and European parliaments. As well as the Irish question, the two sides need to converge on an outline for future economic, trade and security cooperation.

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