Less than a year ahead of the United Kingdom leaving the European Union, or Brexit day in March 2019, the EU's top negotiator Michel Barnier has revealed that there has been "little, or very little" progress in talks about the conditions for the United Kingdom to leave.
"I can not see any other arrangement that works (for the Irish border) if the United Kingdom is not in a Customs Union", he added.
"I just can't see how it works if there are no checks on the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland and no checks on goods travelling from Northern Ireland to Great Britain, which itself raises a number of political questions that are hard to resolve". "We have had first exploratory discussions", he said.
According to Reuters, diplomats and EU officials noted the lack of progress in negotiations on Brexit with London since the last meeting of EU leaders, voicing doubts about the fact that Britain and the EU will be able to reach important decisions in this matter to the next high-level summit which will be held on 28-29 June 2018. Allow me to repeat myself: "we are not there yet", Barnier said on Monday, adding the outstanding issues, including the Irish border conundrum, were "very serious".
The deal could include regular British-EU foreign policy talks, cooperation on military and aid missions, cooperation on defence projects and intelligence sharing, Barnier said.
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As reported by the Independent, the renewed deadlock in Brussels comes as Theresa May's cabinet repeatedly fails to agree with itself on what customs arrangement it wants with the European Union after Brexit, despite publishing two options in August of previous year. It would see Britain collect tariffs on behalf of Brussels on goods from non-EU countries set to be re-exported to the continent.
While both sides want to continue close cooperation on internal security and foreign policy after Brexit, even this area, previously seen as an easy part of the unprecedented divorce negotiations, has seen a series of recent hiccups.
The EU has said London must come up with a solution for the Irish border and highlights that has not happened. It would see the United Kingdom operating as an external border for the European Union and levying its tariffs on its behalf.
Prime Minister Theresa May has long said she wants the closest possible security ties with the European Union, arguing that it would only reduce the continent's safety if established organisations and communication lines were broken or weakened.