Make or Break Moment for Brexit Deal

Taoiseach Micheál Martin has been "downbeat"


By Anthony Neeson

It’s going down to the wire in the trade negotiations between the EU and UK.

Although deadline for an agreement is December 31, this week is being seen as make or break, with Irish government getting jittery over any talks break-up that results in no-deal and the impact that could have on Ireland.

Fisheries, a level playing field, and who will govern the agreement remain sticking points. The level playing field refers to one side being unable to cut regulations to gain a competitive advantage over the other.

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Taoiseach Micheál Martin has been downbeat in recent days over whether an agreement can be reached. With EU and UK negotiators hitting a brick wall, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, have been in regular contact.

“Overall, I think it’s in the best interest of all concerned that a proper deal is agreed, because our respective economies across Europe and the UK would suffer unnecessarily in my view in the event of a no-deal,” the taoiseach said.

“When I say ‘unnecessarily’ I mean if a deal can’t be arrived at it would be a significant failure if we are not to end up with a deal.”

Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs, Simon Coveney, was even more gloomy with the latest news coming out of Brussels.

“Having heard from Michel Barnier ( theEU’s chief negotiator) this morning, really the news is very downbeat,” he said.

“I would say he is very gloomy, and obviously very cautious about the ability to make progress today. There was news last night on some media sources that there was a breakthrough on fishing. That is absolutely not the case from what we’re hearing this morning.”

Coveney added: “There really was no progress made yesterday, that’s our understanding and so we’ve got to try to make a breakthrough at some point today, before the two principals, the Commission president and the prime minister speak later on this evening.

“Unfortunately, I’d like to be giving more positive news, but at the moment these negotiations seems stalled, and the barriers to progress are still very much in place.

“We haven’t, through the negotiating teams, found a way to find compromises that can progress these negotiations towards a successful conclusion.”