EU foresees ‘very hard’ talks with UK on future ties, warns on Irish border
BRUSSELS: The European Union said on Tuesday talks on post-Brexit ties with Britain would kick off next Monday, but warned that the process would be “very hard” and could fail if London fails to secure the Irish border as previously agreed.
Britain left the EU on Jan. 31 after more than three years of tortuous divorce talks, greatly complicated by sensitivities around the Irish border, the only land frontier between the bloc and the United Kingdom now and with a past history of violence.
With both sides talking tough ahead of the negotiations, Ireland warned that even a basic trade deal would be impossible by the end of this year if London does not honor border obligations under its exit deal.
“If there isn’t progress on the infrastructure needed… in the next few months, that’s going to be a very worrying signal for whether or not it’s going to be possible to conclude something sensible before the end of the year,” Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney told reporters in Brussels on Tuesday.
“If that doesn’t happen, it will damage significantly the prospects of being able to get even a bare-bones trade agreement… by the end of the year.”
That message was reinforced by the EU’s Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier, who also said the first round of talks would take place in Brussels from next Monday to Thursday, followed by a second round in London later in March. – Reuters