Irish Border Problem Holds Up Brexit Talks

Deal slips away after talks in Brussels
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 5, 2017 1:22 AM CST
Irish Border Is Sticking Point in Brexit Talks
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, right, greets British Prime Minister Theresa May prior to a meeting at EU headquarters in Brussels on Monday.   (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)

The European Union and Britain ended a flurry of top-level diplomacy on Monday without a deal on the terms of their divorce, as agreement on how to maintain an open Irish border after Brexit slipped out of the negotiators' grasp, the AP reports. British Prime Minister Theresa May went to Brussels for a long negotiating lunch with EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker. After a day that seesawed between hope and disappointment, the leaders failed to make what the EU considers "sufficient progress" on three issues: Britain's exit bill, the rights of citizens affected by Brexit, and the status of the currently invisible 310-mile border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, which will be the UK's only land border with an EU country.

Negotiators were discussing an agreement that would commit Britain to maintaining "regulatory alignment" between Northern Ireland and Ireland after Brexit. Irish and EU officials indicated that agreement was close. But then Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party, which props up May's minority government, announced it wouldn't support any deal that made special rules for Northern Ireland. The party opposes any move that could take Northern Ireland further from Britain and closer to the Republic of Ireland. The DUP has only 10 seats out of 650 in Britain's House of Commons, but without their support May's government would fall. EU leaders want a deal on the breakup terms in time for them to agree at a Dec. 14-15 summit whether to move to the next stage of talks.

(Read more Brexit stories.)

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