Tánaiste feels Brexit deal is possible this week
Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney has said a Brexit deal could be possible as early as this week, as negotiations between the UK and the EU resume in Brussels.
With time running out before a crucial EU summit later this week, diplomats are warning that the two sides are still some way apart on the vital question of how to manage trade and customs on the island of Ireland after Britain exits the European Union on October 31st.
Arriving for the talks this morning, Mr Coveney urged caution but said a deal to avoid Britain crashing out without divorce arrangements in place could be reached.
“A deal is possible and it’s possible this month. It may even be possible this week, but we’re not there yet,” he told reporters as he arrived for talks with EU foreign ministers in Luxembourg.
“As (EU negotiator) Michel Barnier said yesterday, there’s still a lot of work to be done so I hope that we can make more progress today.”
“On Brexit the less we say now the better,” he added, implying that delicate negotiations are taking place that are better kept under wraps for now.
“I think it’s pretty clear what we’re trying to do, but there are pretty detailed technical discussions now and I think we need to give the time and space for that to happen.”
Mr Barnier, the bloc’s chief Brexit negotiator, briefed EU ambassadors late last night after a weekend of talks between officials described as “intense” and “constructive”.
Vice President of European Parliament, Irish MEP Mairead McGuinness, said she does not believe that Brexit negotiations can be completed by Thursday, but it is a good sign that talks have not broken down.
Speaking on RTÉ’s Today with Sean O’Rourke, Ms McGuinness said the customs issue is “front and centre of the negotiations”.
She said something cannot be accepted in the short term that will cause problems in the medium and long term.