The chief Brexit negotiator of the European Union said that he is hoping that the cross-party crisis negotiations in London would produce a positive outcome to enable his team to move quickly in agreeing more ambitions terms on a future relationship between the European Union and the United Kingdom.
The exit of Britain from the bloc hangs in the balance with Theresa May, the British Prime Minister, trying to persuade the Labour Party into agreeing a divorce deal with a better possibility of being ratified by the British parliament, two days before an emergency summit where she will call to delay the April 12 departure date.
In a news conference with Leo Varadkar, the Irish Prime Minister, in Dublin, Michel Barnier stated: “We all hope that these talks will produce a positive outcome. I’ve said many times before, we can be more, much more ambitious in our future relationship with the UK.”
He added: “The political declaration provides for a range of outcomes including a customs union. We are ready to make this clearer if it helps and this work can be done extremely quickly.”
Barnier is a regular visitor to Dublin during the two tortuous years of Brexit discussions. He also talked about the consequences for Ireland and in particular its 500-km (350-mile), seamless land border with Northern Ireland, that is governed by Britain, in the event that the United Kingdom departs from the European Union without a transition deal.
He said that Brussels and Dublin were intensifying the negotiations on how they could protect the peace on the island of Ireland, anchored in part by the open frontier – while also sustaining the integrity of the single market of the European Union that allows goods to freely move around the bloc – if the United Kingdom left without a deal.
Barnier stated: “It is not an easy task but I am confident, I am confident that we will find operational solutions. One thing is certain, whatever happens, the EU will stand fully behind Ireland, you have our full support.”
His remarks echoed expressions of solidarity that were made to Varadkar last week in his meetings with Angela Merkel the German Chancellor, and Emmanuel Macron, the President of France, both of whom May is scheduled to travel to meet on Tuesday.
While PM May has called for a further Brexit delay until the 30th of June, Donald Tusk, the EU summit chair, is planning to propose an extension of a year that can be shortened if the parliament of the United Kingdom eventually approves the divorce deal that was struck with the European Union last November.