Ireland says EU to continue seeking comprehensive and fair Brexit deal

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European Union countries want their chief negotiator Michel Barnier to continue seeking a comprehensive free trade deal on the bloc’s future relationship with Britain, Irish Prime Minister Micheal Martin said.

At a meeting with EU countries on Wednesday, Barnier “was given the necessary flexibility to continue with the negotiations on behalf of the European Council to ensure a comprehensive, fair and free trade deal between the United Kingdom and the European Union,” Martin said.

“That’s how we would like to see things evolve from now, and in the future weeks, to bring this to a conclusion,” he said.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson will on Friday give Britain’s response to the European Union’s demand that he either make more concessions to secure a trade deal or brace for a disorderly Brexit at the end of the year.

Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel arrives for a two-days face-to-face European Council summit, in Brussels, Belgium. EPA-EFE/OLIVIER HOSLET/ POOL

Meanwhile, Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel said on Friday that the European Union needs to strike a balance on what its members want from future EU-UK relations and not solely focus on a single item, such as fishing rights.

“We are behind the countries for whom fishing is important, as every subject can be important such as, for the internal market, to keep on eye on what could be state aid,” Bettel said on arrival for the second day of an EU leaders’ summit.

“We cannot just put one item on the scales… It is important that as a whole there is a balance and not have a situation where one is a winner and the other is a loser.” 

Britain’s Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said on Friday there was a Brexit trade deal “to be done” after the European Union put the onus on Britain to compromise.

Asked if Prime Minister Boris Johnson would walk away from talks, Raab said: “Let’s what see what the prime minister will say later, we’ll look at this very carefully and he’ll set out some further detail later today.”

“We’ve always said there’s a deal to be done,” he told BBC radio on Friday.

“The issues are very narrow now in terms of there’s only really two issues at stake, so a deal should be able to be done but it must require goodwill on both sides.”

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