Barnier warns Irish backstop deal is urgent to unlock Brexit

Barnier warns Irish backstop deal is urgent to unlock Brexit

"There is an urgent need to work on the text of an operational backstop and that's why I've asked Dominic and his team to provide us with the necessary data for technical work, which we need now, on the nature, location and methods of the checks that will be needed", Barnier said.

One of the biggest sticking points is the future regulation of the border between the Republic of Ireland, an European Union member, and Northern Ireland, which will leave the European Union as part of the United Kingdom.

The European Union's Michel Barnier says it's "possible" to get an agreement on Britain's withdrawal from the EU in time for a summit of the bloc's leaders in Brussels from October 18 to 19, but added that a delay into November was also possible. "It's essential to conclude negotiations because as I've said, without a backstop, there can be no agreement".

Michel Barnier was speaking after a meeting with the Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab.

Progress on the Withdrawal Agreement, which is 80% complete, is being held back primarily by a failure to agree on a backstop solution to avoiding a hard border in Ireland.

Brussels wants to show that the flow of goods from the rest of the United Kingdom into Northern Ireland is minimal, and that most of it comes via the Republic of Ireland.

He said: "With no backstop, there will be no agreement".

Anti-Brexit billboards on the northern side of the Irish border
Anti-Brexit billboards on the northern side of the Irish border

Mr Raab said that he wanted to continue "accelerating and intensifying" negotiations, adding: "We're committed to resolving the deal by (the October council) and ultimately on my side I am stubbornly optimistic that a deal is within our reach".

"This backstop is critical".

Barnier said unresolved issues included geographical indication labels for specialised local products, nuclear cooperation, data protection and the role of the EU's top court in policing the agreement.

Mr Raab said the Government "remained committed" to finding a solution in Northern Ireland.

"Barnier is working for a deal, he talks trade to get the Irish backstop through", a senior European Union diplomat said.

In response to Barnier's latest comments, GBPUSD was barely changed after its Wednesday gains, suggesting the uptrend in the pair that began two weeks ago will likely extend higher.

Raab said he is "confident, if not more confident", they would reach a deal by then, although he declined to give the odds.

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