European Union ministers continue to talk Brexit despite little progress in recent months

Henrietta Strickland
May 16, 2018

Zakharieva, who chaired the meeting as part of Bulgaria holding the six-month rotating presidency, said that the ministers are looking forward to more intensive engagement by the United Kingdom government in the coming weeks.

Labour will hope to complicate her government's talks on customs by trying to force a vote in parliament for the release of the documents May's cabinet are considering to try to boil down two current proposals to a single option.

Under pressure from the European Union to move forward with talks on the future partnership that will follow its exit from the bloc, Britain must first settle on a customs proposal to present to skeptical negotiators in Brussels.

They favor a streamlined customs arrangement known as maximum facilitation or "max fac".

Meanwhile, the British government is struggling to work out a customized plan, which will help to minimize the losses of border control between the United Kingdom and Ireland.

"I think nobody must underestimate the key rendezvous of June", France's Barnier told a security conference in Brussels.

Varadkar joked that he had misread the option, thinking it was some kind of cosmetic.

European Union negotiator Michel Barnier warned Britain Monday to resolve the issue of its post-Brexit border with Ireland by a June summit, saying there had been little movement since leaders last met in March.

The EU and Dublin insist the treaty must lock in a backstop arrangement in case future customs arrangements do not remove the need for controls on the intra-Irish border.

The EU says Britain must agree to a workable solution to the question of how to avoid a hard border between EU member Ireland and the British province of Northern Ireland by the June 28-29 summit. "We have seen on the Norway-Sweden border that we still need all customs administrative measures despite us having a very well-functioning border", she said.

Instead, he said, ministers had wasted months on two "fatally flawed" options - a customs partnership under which Britain would collect tariffs on behalf of the European Union, and a streamlined customs arrangement which would depend on technology to reduce any friction at the new border with the bloc.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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