UNITED STATES, WASHINGTON (VOP TODAY NEWS) — President Emmanuel Macron assured British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Thursday that it was possible to negotiate an agreement on Brexit within 30 days, while ruling out major concessions.
Shortly after the French president’s announcement, German Chancellor Angela Merkel confirmed that an agreement could be reached until October 31, the deadline for Brexit.
“I told (Johnson) that you want to do it in two or three years, you can do it in 30 days … until October 31,” Merkel said in The Hague.
Macron expressed support for this additional period to find a solution to the Irish border issue, which has been at odds since negotiations began in 2017.
“We must try to have a useful month,” Macron said at a joint press conference, insisting that solutions were “already available” to prevent the return of barriers on Ireland’s divided border.
But Macron, who has acknowledged his reputation as the “hardest president” on Brexit, rejected Johnson’s calls for the cancellation of Ireland’s “safety net” negotiated between the European Union and former British Prime Minister Theresa May.
The “safety net” clause stipulates that the entire UK should remain in a “single customs zone” with the EU, because there is no better solution to the end of the transition and to avoid a de facto border between the province of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
Mr Johnson says the clause is “undemocratic and harms the sovereignty of the British state” because it requires it to continue to apply EU laws during the transitional period and prevents it from pursuing a trade policy independent of the EU.
“Technical solutions are readily available (to avoid barriers) and discussed in great detail,” Johnson said. “Reliable trade programs and electronic systems to clear goods can be obtained.”
The EU considers the “safety net” necessary to prevent the return of barriers that could lead to a return to fighting between British Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, which has killed thousands.
“I would like to be clear. Over the next month, we will not be able to reach a new withdrawal agreement very far from the foundations,” Macron said at the Elysee Palace in central Paris.
Since taking office last month, the prospect of Britain leaving the EU “without agreement” on October 31 has been on the rise, which economists believe will cause serious economic damage to Britain and the European Union.
A senior EU official told reporters in Brussels on Thursday, speaking on condition of anonymity that “the European Union and its member states must take into account the possibility of a Brexit (without agreement) more seriously than before.”
A French official said Wednesday that this would become a “more likely” scenario.
– A glimmer of hope? – Hey.
Paris is the second leg of Johnson’s first foreign trip after becoming prime minister. On Wednesday, he visited Berlin for talks with Merkel, who appeared to have given him a glimmer of hope by saying Britain should try to find a way out next month.
“I want to make it clear that I want an agreement … I think we can reach a good agreement,” he said.
He confirmed Thursday that his talks with Merkel “strongly encouraged him.” “I was impressed by the spirit of ‘we can make it happen’,” he said.
But many Brexit observers believe Merkel’s comments are consistent with her more conciliatory tone on Brexit than Macron, whose tough comments have caused anger in London in the past.
“The EU is a little concerned based on what we heard yesterday in Berlin,” the EU official said in Brussels. “We are waiting for new facts and viable ideas.”
– Share the blame –
These developments reflected a rise in the price of sterling on Thursday against the euro and the dollar. At 1340 GMT, the pound was trading at $ 1,2240 (up 0.91 percent) and 0.90 cents per euro (0.93 percent).
“Investors are responding to Angela Merkel’s recent reassuring remarks about the Irish safety net,” Pierre Ferre, an analyst at ActiveTrade Group, told AFP.
“Merkel has said it is possible to find a solution to the safety net that will maintain the integrity of the single market and respect the principles of the Belfast agreement signed in 1998,” said David Madden, analyst at CMC Markets.
Johnson, who showed his French skills to impress French diplomats, is betting on Britain’s removal from the European Union on October 31 “at all costs.”
Analysts have spoken of the danger that Macron-Johnson’s relations could become a storm in the open, which could lead to mutual blame if Britain emerges without an agreement.
But Macron preempted any attempt to blame the European side at a news conference on Wednesday before Johnson’s arrival in Paris. “This will always be the responsibility of the British government, because, first, it is the British people who decided to go out, and secondly because the British government has the option until the last minute to return from Article 50.”
Article 50 is a legal mechanism used by EU member states to withdraw from the EU, which Britain activated in March 2017.
Over the weekend, Macron, Merkel and Johnson will meet US President Donald Trump, a supporter of Brexit and Johnson, at the Group of Seven summit in the French resort of Biarritz.
This article is written and prepared by our foreign editors writing for VOP from different countries around the world – edited and published by VOP staff in our newsroom.
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