LUXEMBOURG (AP) – The Latest on Brexit (all times local):
The French minister for Europe says EU countries are ready to discuss new proposals from Britain for a new Brexit deal if they protect Northern Ireland’s peace deal and the bloc’s common market.
Speaking ahead of a meeting of EU ministers in Brussels, Amelie de Montchalin said it is essential that any amendment to the current proposed divorce deal should uphold the Good Friday Agreement, the treaty that ended decades of conflict in Northern Ireland.
Montchalin said “if some people have proposals to make – as the United Kingdom has hinted – we are ready to listen to them.”
The main sticking point over a deal is the so-called backstop, a mechanism which would require Britain to retain some EU rules in order to avoid a hard border between EU member Ireland and the U.K.’s Northern Ireland.
Montchalin said “the backstop is an insurance policy. If we can’t find anything better, it’s a way to organize ourselves in order to protect peace in Ireland and the common market.”
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is holding his first meeting with European Union chief Jean-Claude Juncker in search of a longshot Brexit deal.
European Commission President Juncker and Johnson are holding talks Monday over a lunch of snails and salmon in Luxembourg.
Johnson says the U.K. will leave the EU on the scheduled Oct. 31 date, with or without a withdrawal agreement. But he insists he can strike a revised divorce deal with the bloc in time for an orderly departure. The agreement made by his predecessor, Theresa May, was rejected three times by Britain’s Parliament.
Johnson said in a newspaper column Monday that he believes “passionately” that a deal can be achieved. But the EU says it is still waiting for firm proposals from the U.K.