EU, Britain extend talks, push harder to avoid a no-deal Brexit
BRUSSELS — The European Union said Friday that talks with the United Kingdom to find an amicable divorce deal were back on track, despite huge challenges and a looming end-of-month deadline for Britain to leave the bloc.
EU Council President Donald Tusk said he has “received promising signals” from Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar that a Brexit deal is still possible, so he has extended a deadline to continue the Brexit talks.
Tusk, speaking in Nicosia, said “for the first time” Varadkar and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson saw a pathway toward a deal, adding that “even the slightest chance must be used” to avoid a no-deal Brexit.
An official from an EU nation, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the talks are ongoing, said the United Kingdom had offered compromises on how to deal with the only EU-United Kingdom land border, on the island of Ireland.
The official said Barnier told EU ambassadors the United Kingdom will shift its position on the custom union, the issue of consent of the Northern Ireland legislature on the border and some regulations on trade.
Immediately, the wheels of the negotiating machinery started churning again. Johnson’s Brexit Secretary, Stephen Barclay, got a warm welcome from EU negotiator Michel Barnier before they started almost two hours of talks Friday.
The EU said later that the two sides would “intensify discussions over the coming days” before an assessment on the Brexit talks would be made on Monday.
Raf Casert is an Associated Press writer.