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EU says 'no solution' for now to break Brexit deadlock

File photo. Photograph:( Reuters )

AFP Brussels, Belgium Mar 06, 2019, 04.56 PM (IST)

EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier said Wednesday "no solution" has been found so far to break the deadlock over Brexit, a spokesman reported after the latest negotiations in Brussels.

Briefing the European Commission, the EU's executive arm, Barnier said the talks "have been difficult", spokesman Margaritis Schinas said following the four hours of negotiations on Tuesday.

Barnier informed the commissioners that "no solution has been identified at this point that is consistent with the withdrawal agreement," which the EU agreed with Prime Minister Theresa May in November.

Barnier said the discussions have nonetheless taken place in a "constructive atmosphere," speaking the day after he held the latest round of talks with UK attorney general Geoffrey Cox and Brexit minister Stephen Barclay.

Barnier confirmed the two sides were still stuck on the so-called "backstop," aimed at keeping open the border between EU member Ireland and British Northern Ireland.

The EU sees the provision in the withdrawal agreement as vital to preserving the peace process in Northern Ireland but London fears it will tie Britain indefinitely to an EU customs union.

The EU-British talks are aimed at helping May's government get the November divorce deal through parliament and avoiding Britain crashing out of the bloc on March 29 without a deal.

Cox said he had put forward some "very reasonable proposals" during his talks in Brussels.

"Both sides have exchanged robust strong views and we're now facing the real discussions. Talks will be resuming soon," Cox told Sky News television from Brussels.

"These are very sensitive discussions, we're into the meat of the matter now, we've put forward some proposals, very reasonable proposals," he said.

But he said he could not reveal the content of the discussions, saying they were "private and confidential".

Story highlights

Barnier informed commissioners with the EU's executive arm that 'no solution has been identified at this point that is consistent with the withdrawal agreement,' spokesman Margaritis Schinas told a press conference.