Brexit: Ursula von der Leyen calls for ‘fairness’ from UK
Irish premier Micheal Martin said he will speak of the “importance” of striking an agreement with Britain when EU leaders debate the trade talks later today. Dublin is particularly fearful of a no-deal Brexit because of its reliance on the UK as a vital trading partner and a route into the EU market. Arriving at the European Council summit in Brussels, Mr Martin said: “I will be discussing with my colleagues the situation in relation to Brexit, and the importance of doing everything we possible can to achieve a trading deal so the future relationship with the United Kingdom and the European Union is one that is sustainable, solid and harmonious into the future.
“But it is very difficult, and from talking to colleagues no one understates the challenges that lay ahead – but it’s important for the citizens of Europe we do everything we possibly can to get an agreement.”
He was joined by other EU27 leaders calling for the bloc to ramp up its no-deal Brexit planning.
Swedish prime minister Stefan Lofven told reporters: “I’m a bit more gloomy today.
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“As far as I hear, there was no progress made in the recent days. It’s problematic, of course.
“That is a huge challenge we’ve always said that we are preparing for the worst… hoping for the best.
“And now, it seems, difficult, it’s a difficult situation.”
And Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda said the contigency measures should be in place “from the first minutes” after the transition period expires at the end of the year.
Arriving at the summit, European Council President Charles Michel said the debate on Brexit would be short between EU leaders.
He said the bloc was united behind its Brexit chief, Michel Barnier, and trusted him to defend their interests.
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Mr Michel said: “Negotiations are still ongoing, we have maintained a clear mandate on the basis of which the negotiator represents the interests of the union. You know economic fair-play, governance, the issue of respecting the withdrawal agreement and the question of fisheries are essential.
“We want to continue negotiating but we also want to continue defending the European interests.”
This morning the European Commission unveiled its no-deal Brexit contigency measures amid fears that its officials will fail to broker a deal with Britain.
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Eurocrats have drawn up plans to maintain EU fishing rights in British waters, and protect aviation and road transport links between the UK and Continent.
They are working on a new regulation to create an “appropriate legal framework” to enable EU boats to access the UK’s fishing grounds.
With the trade negotiations on the brink of collapse, Brussels will propose arrangements for “continued reciprocal access by EU and UK vessels to each others’ waters after December 31, 2020”.
The EU Commission adds: “In order to guarantee the sustainability of fisheries and in light of the importance of fisheries for the economic livelihood of many communities, it is necessary to facilitate the procedures of authorisation of fishing vessels.”
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