Urgent Brexit meeting in Brussels

According to diplomatic sources, the EU’s Brexit negotiators summoned all diplomats handling the Brexit talks for an urgent meeting, speculating that there could be an interim deal ahead of the European Council meeting at the end of March.

British Secretary overseeing the Brexit negotiations David Davis will meet the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier in Brussels shortly after 11 a.m.,  as the two sides try to hammer out an interim deal before leaders meet for a summit on Thursday.

Several EU officials and diplomats said intense talks over the weekend aimed, among other things, at resolving serious differences over the Irish border had made good progress. However, it is noteworthy that spokesmen of the British government denied any official comment.

The situation is definitely not smooth in London, as a call to extend the period for the UK leaving the EU if more time is needed to agree a UK-EU trade deal has split a key Commons committee.

Its report says it is “difficult to see” how trade and other agreements can be negotiated in time, but Brexit-backing members of the committee refused to support the statement. Specifically the report stresses that the government could seek a “limited prolongation to avoid unnecessary disruption” if a 21-month transition period did not allow enough time to ratify treaties and get the technical and administrative processes in place at the UK border.

The two sides want a transition period to follow, which aims to smooth the way to a post-Brexit relationship between the UK and the EU. The EU wants this to last from Brexit day until 31 December 2020. The UK calls it an implementation period and says it should last around two years from March 2019.

Mr. Davis said this week he could “live with” a transition period lasting less than two years, if it secured an early deal.

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