In a major boost for the UK, Irish Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said in an interview over the weekend that he believes that a Brexit deal between the UK and the EU is nearing completion.
One of the major stumbling blocks over the last few months has concerned the future handling of customs checks between the UK border in Northern Ireland and the EU’s Republic of Ireland. Positive news from the Irish side will encourage the UK government, which has struggled to break the impasse so far.
At the same time, some senior EU figures are optimistic that a trade deal is within grasp, noting that the next few weeks of negotiations will prove pivotal.
The original October deadline for an agreement, five months ahead of the UK’s official departure from the EU in March 2019, already looks likely to not take place, However, a special summit is set for November, and politicians are now confident that a deal should be on the table by then.
Coveney said that chances are “good” of resolving all outstanding issues as negotiations enter the final stages. With neither side likely to benefit from a no-deal Brexit, it is in the interests of all parties to come together and figure out a deal that suits everyone. The markets on both sides have struggled from severe fluctuations due to months of conflicting stories and reports.
Jean-Claude Juncker, the EU Commission President, said that although he is unsure if the October deadline for a deal will occur, he believes that there is clear “rapprochement potential” and that if necessary, “we’ll do it in November.” With many EU politicians now expressing positive sentiments after dismissing many of the previous iterations of suggested deals, it seems that a Brexit arrangement is getting closer by the week.
Coveney noted that because “the consequences of not getting a deal are very, very negative indeed,” the chances of a resolution are high. He revealed to Sky News that “the withdrawal treaty is already about 90% agreed in terms of text.”
Citing the need for “the two negotiating teams to lock themselves in a room for ten days,” he clarified that the main outstanding issue still surrounds the Irish border deadlock, which has caused worry for many this year.
The Irish border problem harks back to previous eras of similar troubles, and this current time of peace has given credence to the idea that the issue should not be in jeopardy just to achieve a deal. This has seen negotiators sent back to the drawing board several times already.
Coveney feels that negotiations will be a “bumpy ride” but still maintains that “it can be done and will be done,” pointing out that the UK will have to deliver on what “it’s promised to solve this Irish border issue.”
The UK’s current Conservative governing party feels that there has been definite forward movement on the Brexit issue. Chairman Brandon Lewis said that he is “confident” that Prime Minister Theresa May will be able to secure a deal for the UK that works on all fronts and solves the current diplomatic problems that have stalled it so far.