Irish PM calls for EU solidarity on Brexit bill, trade talks to go on

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Ireland’s Prime Minister Micheal Martin said on Friday Britain must respect Brexit arrangements for the sensitive Irish border as this week’s talks between the bloc and London failed to close the gaps on a new trade deal.

The EU launched a legal case against Britain on Thursday for undercutting their divorce deal and a senior UK minister said differences remained in talks on a post-Brexit partnership in everything from trade to energy to transport.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was expected to talk on the phone with the head of the EU’s executive, Ursula von der Leyen, on Saturday to assess negotiations on their future relationship and agree next steps.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen (R) and Ireland’s Prime Minister (Taoiseach) Micheal Martin pose for a photo during the second face-to-face EU summit since the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Brussels, Belgium, 01 October 2020. EPA-EFE/JOHANNA GERON / POOL

Von der Leyen, EU leaders’ chairman Charles Michel and Martin are due to update the summit of the bloc’s 27 national leaders in Brussels on Friday. The EU and Ireland say Britain’s new Internal Markets Bill threatens the Irish peace.

“I’m looking forward to giving my assessment on the Brexit situation to my colleagues… in particular the importance of protecting (of) and the adherence to the Withdrawal Agreement and the Ireland protocol,” Martin said.

“That is important in terms of trade, protection of jobs.”

The United Kingdom says it must break the divorce deal provisions on Ireland and Northern Ireland to allow England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to trade freely with each other if there is no post-Brexit trade deal with the EU.

The passage of the UK’s new Internal Market Bill setting that out through the lower house of parliament this week threw the tortuous Brexit process into a fresh crisis. Disagreements persist in the trade talks with the EU over state aid, fisheries and ways to solve disputes.

The estranged allies would continue trade talks next week and until the next summit of the bloc’s leaders due on Oct.15-16, sources told Reuters after this week’s round of negotiations failed to resolve all the outstanding issues.

More talks have yet to be scheduled but would take place, according to an EU diplomat and an official with the bloc, who both follow Brexit. They spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity as negotiators Michel Barnier and David Frost wrapped up this week’s talks.

The 27 national leaders in the bloc are due to next meet on Oct.15-16 to assess progress on Brexit, with time available by the end of the year to put a new deal in place running out.

The EU is adamant, however, that it would not implement any new UK deal as long as London undermines the divorce treaty.

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