The UK and the EU have made progress deemed “sufficient” in the negotiations on the terms of their separation to proceed to the second phase of discussions on their future business relations, said the European Commission this Friday. Regarding Ireland, Theresa May ensures that “there will be no hard border”.
The European Commission, which conducts the negotiations Brexit on behalf of the 27 EU countries on Friday estimated that “sufficient progress” has been achieved on the conditions of the divorce with the UK, opening the door to the opening of the second phase of negotiations on the future relationship.
It is now up to the European Council, a body which brings together leaders of the member states, to validate the findings of the Commission, it said in a statement from the EU executive.
The British Prime Minister Theresa May has arrived in Brussels , received by the Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, for a last minute meeting while the EU and London have been unsuccessfully trying for an agreement on the first phase of the Brexit negotiations.
“No hard border” in Northern Ireland
The British Prime Minister Theresa May assured that the preliminary agreement reached between the European Commission and the UK guarantees no physical border between Ireland and the British province of Northern Ireland. “In Northern Ireland, we will ensure that there is no hard border”, said May at a press conference in Brussels after a meeting with President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker Brussels.
The status of the border between Ireland, a member of the EU, and Northern Ireland under British jurisdiction, had become the most sensitive issue in discussions between the Union and the United Kingdom. Under the terms of the agreement in principle signed Friday by the European Commission and London, “the UK is committed to protecting the cooperation between North and South of Ireland and to ensure freedom of no hard border “ .
Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar praised a “very important day”. “This is not the end but the end of the beginning of negotiations”, said Mr Varadkar in a press statement, adding that his country would remain “vigilant during phase 2” of the Brexit negotiations.
Tusk: the worst is yet to come
The President of the Council of the EU body that represents the leaders of the 28 European countries, Donald Tusk has however warned that “the most difficult challenge” of negotiations between the United Kingdom and the Union on the Brexit had “come” . “We all know that is hard to separate but to separate and build a new relationship is even harder” .
The two leaders shook hands at the arrival of Ms. May, before disappearing to their meeting at 7 am Brussels time (6am GMT).