The European Commission said there are no grounds to accept a request from the UK for intensive weekend negotiations two weeks before an EU summit, despite the extremely tight deadline, Trend reports citing Sputnik.
Brussels had found no reason to enter into negotiations as UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson insists on a customs border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
"If we held talks at the weekend it would look like these were proper negotiations," an EU diplomat said, quoted by The Times. "We're still a long way from that. We need to work out quickly whether there is the opportunity to close that gap."
On Wednesday, Johnson revealed a new plan to replace the previously rejected Irish border backstop in a bid to ensure that the United Kingdom leaves the European Union after the October 31 deadline with an agreement. Notably, the prime minister has insisted that London would withdraw from the bloc after the deadline with or without a deal.
“We will meet again on Monday to give the UK another opportunity to present its proposals in detail,” an EU spokeswoman said. She added that the proposals did not “provide a basis for concluding an agreement”.
Johnson's new proposals revolve around the creation of an all-Ireland regulatory framework on cross-border trade, something that would ideally guarantee Northern Ireland exits the EU customs union along with the rest of the UK while still ensuring compliance with European standards on goods.
The proposals have been criticized both in the European Union and in Ireland. While Brussels said the proposals lacked basis for clinching a deal, Dublin insisted that the plan fell short in a number of aspects, with Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar saying Johnson’s plan “is not supported by business or civil society in Northern Ireland; it’s only supported by one political party, so there’s a long way to go.”
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