No Northern Ireland Brexit guarantee but a complete free trade agreement?

Photo: James Claffey via Unsplash

It seems that European and British negotiators see opportunities to reach an agreement about a British departure from the EU. The team of EU negotiator Michel Barnier will be at the negotiating table with the British in the coming days about new proposals that London has made.

"Whether there is light at the end of the tunnel is awaiting", a diplomat tempered expectations. Up to now there have been technical discussions, but there is great pressure to make progress in the run-up to next week's EU summit. Even the smallest chance should be seized, EU President Tusk said earlier in the day.

The European Commission emphasizes that a legally viable solution is and remains necessary to prevent a hard border in Ireland. The integrity of the European internal market must not be compromised. Reportedly, the new British proposals no longer talk about the guarantee scheme annex backstop, but about a separate Euro-British free trade agreement for Northern Ireland.

The Member States, the committee and the European Parliament will discuss the issue on Monday. A day later, the Ministers for European Affairs are discussing a possible agreement, to be ratified a few days later by the prime ministers and presidents of the 28 EU countries.

And if the parties can agree, the deal has yet to be approved by the British parliament, where Prime Minister Johnson's government no longer has a majority. Formal consent from the European Parliament is also required.

Johnson will ask the British parliament to support any agreement that he hopes to conclude within 24 hours of next week's European summit. This is only possible if a large number of Labor politicians agree. For the time being, it is unclear whether or not a EU British extension will be necessary to negotiate a free trade agreement.