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Brexit: UK and European Union 'move heaven and earth' to protect NI

15 October 2017

Earlier this week, the European Union's chief Brexit negotiator announced after a meeting with his United Kingdom counterpart David Davis that the talks have reached a deadlock over the divorce bill settlement and sufficient progress has not been made to open talks with regard to Britain's future relationship with the European Union and trade talks.

Mr. Barnier said the discussions were deadlocked on the issue of how much money Britain should pay the bloc in its deal to exit it. London's refusal to spell out a detailed cash offer was "very worrying" for business, he said.

The European Union's Brexit negotiator says that little progress was made with the U.K.in a fifth round of talks on the country's departure from the EU in March 2019.

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But, Mr Barnier warned, "no deal would be a very bad deal".

May said then that the other 27 countries would not lose out financially from Brexit in the current European Union budget period to 2020 and that Britain would honour commitments - but Barnier said London was failing to say exactly what it was ready to pay.

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He added: "There is a new momentum and I remain convinced today that with political will, decisive progress is within our grasp in the next two months". Barnier said those are rights to do with post-Brexit decisions and should be dealt with in the next phase of talks.

But EU officials noted that Mr Tusk, the European Council president, has sounded out most national leaders in recent days. We were certainly hoping for it.

"That goes to show that, even though we think the Commission is absolutely in charge and can make all the decisions, the power to move on really lies in the member states".

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But it warns that Britain has not made a "firm and concrete" commitment on what Brussels sees as its financial obligations, echoing Mr Barnier's concerns that a "disturbing" deadlock over the size of Britain's exit bill means he can not recommend moving on from divorce talks to discussions about future trade relations when leaders of the 27 remaining European Union states meet in Brussels on October 19. On Thursday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose scope to change policy is limited by ongoing coalition talks, stressed Berlin would negotiate to minimise damage to Germany.

Brexit: UK and European Union 'move heaven and earth' to protect NI