Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - EU offers to extend Brexit transition period



EU offers to extend Brexit transition period

EU offers to extend Brexit transition period

The EU is ready to extend Brexit’s post-divorce transition period by a year to allow more time to find a trade deal, diplomats said Wednesday ahead of a difficult summit.

Talks are at an impasse over the issue of a legal backstop to keep the border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic open after the UK leaves the bloc on March 29 – but EU negotiator Michel Barnier has an idea.

According to two European diplomats, Barnier is ready to add a year to the 21-month post Brexit transition period – taking it to the end of 2021 – to provide more space to strike a trade deal.

This offer would not in itself resolve the back-stop issue, which must be settled in the Brexit treaty that must be ratified before March to avoid a damaging “no deal” scenario.

But the extension would grant more time to agree a new EU-UK trade relationship and avoid the need for separate plans for Northern Ireland, which London staunchly opposes.

The diplomats said that Barnier had revealed his offer to EU ministers at a meeting in Luxembourg on Wednesday.

With the offer on the table, Europe is seeking to put pressure on May to come to Brussels with ideas of her own.

“I am going to ask Prime Minister May whether she has concrete proposals on how to break the impasse,” EU President Donald Tusk declared.

But May, hemmed in by opponents in her own party and even in her own cabinet, has no such proposals.

Previously, both sides had agreed that Britain crashing out of the Union on March 29 next year with neither a divorce agreement to future ties would be an economic and diplomatic disaster.

But, after Britain’s refusal to accept an indefinite legal “backstop” to prevent the return of a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic, doubts are mounting.

Back in Brussels, a stern Tusk said he had “no grounds for optimism” based on a report Tuesday from Barnier and May’s appearance in parliament on Monday.

The main disagreement between London and Brussels is over how to keep the Irish border open after Brexit, but May is also fighting with her own MPs, who must ultimately approve the final divorce deal.

At a three-hour cabinet meeting on Tuesday morning, which included ministers with reservations about her strategy, May said a deal was possible if they all stood together.

“I’m convinced that if we as a government stand together and stand firm, we can achieve this,” she said, according to her spokesman.

Addressing MPs in the House of Commons on Monday, May had said a deal was “achievable” while sticking to her principles on the Irish border issue.

To solve the Irish question, Britain has proposed staying aligned to the EU’s customs rules until a wider trade deal can be signed that avoids the need for any frontier checks.

May said the EU was also insisting on its own “backstop” in case the London proposal did not work, which would see Northern Ireland alone stay aligned to the customs union and single market.

She says this would threaten the integrity of the United Kingdom – and it is strongly opposed by her Northern Irish allies from the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP).

MOST VIEWED

  • Massive stingrays may live in Mekong’s deep pools

    US scientists have suggested that unexplored deep pools in the Mekong River in an area of Stung Treng could potentially be home to significant populations of giant freshwater stingrays, one of the world’s largest freshwater fish species. This comes as a fisherman hooked a 180

  • CCC team off on US business trip

    The Kingdom’s leading economists and private sector representatives have called on the US to renew its tax preferential status for Cambodian exports, as a Cambodia Chamber of Commerce (CCC) delegation departed for a weeklong business visit to the US, where they will meet with

  • PM takes time to meet, greet Cambodians living in the US

    After landing in the US ahead of the ASEAN-US Special Summit, Prime Minister Hun Sen was received by over 1,000 Cambodian-Americans including political analysts who welcomed him with greetings, fist bumps and selfies. Hun Sen also met with analyst Mak Hoeun, who had allegedly spoken ill

  • Khmer cinema classics back on big screen for free at WB Arena’s outdoor movies series

    On a recent Saturday evening at WB Arena, Bunsong was enjoying a tasty BBQ meal with his family after work on the long tables that had been arranged out in front of the restaurant as they watched a Khmer action movie on a big outdoor

  • PM heads to Washington for ASEAN-US special summit

    Regional and international issues and how to bring the ASEAN-US partnership to another level will be discussed at length as Prime Minister Hun Sen and his ministers arrive in Washington, DC, for a special summit on May 12-13. During the trip, Hun Sen and ASEAN

  • National Assembly refutes EU resolution

    The National Assembly (NA) has hit back at a European Parliament resolution condemning the political and human rights situation in Cambodia, calling it another display of the Parliament’s “double standards”. Key points of the resolution include a warning that the Parliament could exclude the