EU Brexit Negotiator Michel Barnier | Ludovic Marin/AFP via Getty Images
Michel Barnier recommends intensifying Brexit talks
The move follows a positive meeting between the British and Irish prime ministers on Thursday.
Updated 10/11/19, 9:41 PM CET
EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier told ambassadors in Brussels Friday that there are grounds for going deeper into negotiations with the U.K.
Barnier met his opposite number U.K. Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay on Friday morning to take stock of the talks. Diplomats had been pessimistic about significant progress by the end of this week, seen as a necessary precursor to a deal at the European Council summit on Thursday next week.
After a fractious start to the week, the Brexit mood music became more positive following a meeting between Boris Johnson and Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar on Thursday. After that meeting Varadkar said he could see a “pathway to a deal,” language echoed in a statement issued by Downing Street.
However, skepticism remains among the EU27 that a deal can be done in time to agree it at next week’s leader’s summit.
Following Friday’s stock take, both a U.K. government spokesperson and Barnier told journalists after the meeting that it had been “constructive.” However, Barnier sounded a note of caution as he left: “I’ve already said that Brexit is like climbing a mounting: we need vigilance, determination and patience.”
Later in the afternoon, Johnson ducked questions about customs arrangements in Northern Ireland after Brexit, one of two main obstacles to a deal between the U.K.