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UK's Brexit proposal rebuffed in Brussels as 'no basis' for a deal

FILE PHOTO: European flags flatter outside the EU commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, September 20, 2019. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Britain’s proposals for a Brexit deal were widely rebuffed in Brussels on Thursday, with a European Parliament group saying it was not “a basis for agreement” and a senior EU official saying it took two steps backwards from an earlier agreement.

Diplomats and officials said the offer, made on Wednesday by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, would have to be overhauled to yield a divorce agreement before Britain is due to leave at the end of this month.

Wary of being seen as intransigent or being blamed should the increasingly intractable divorce end up in a chaotic no-deal split, the EU initially said it would analyze Johnson’s plan.

But EU diplomats and officials dealing with Brexit made clear they thought it could be no more than a starting point to more talks.

The bloc’s executive European Commission - which is leading Brexit talks for the remaining 27 EU member states - is due to quiz British negotiators on their proposals on Friday.

“It does not contain any decent solution for customs. And it erects a hard border on the island of Ireland,” said the senior EU official.

“It would have to be fundamentally reworked,” an EU diplomat said, noting that time was short before the bloc’s leaders meet in Brussels in two weeks for a make-or-break Brexit summit.

The European Parliament’s Brexit Steering Group (BSG) met on Wednesday with the European Commission’s Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, to discuss the British offer.

“The initial reaction of the BSG was that these proposals do not represent a basis for an agreement to which the Parliament could give consent by the end of the month,” according to the draft of a statement from the group seen by Reuters.

editing by John Stonestreet