March 19, 2018 / 11:27 AM / a month ago

EU, UK reach broad agreement on transition, Irish issues: diplomat

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - EU and British negotiators have agreed draft Brexit treaty texts dealing with a transition period and other issues and have a broad agreement on Irish border arrangements although some details are outstanding, a senior EU diplomat said on Monday.

Speaking after EU negotiators met envoys from the other 27 member states, the diplomat said final texts had been agreed also on the rights of expatriate citizens and on a financial settlement.

It was not fully clear whether EU leaders would, as Britain wants, endorse a final text on the transition on Friday. Ireland has been pressing for assurances from Britain that it would, if necessary, accept a “backstop” solution for the Northern Ireland border, contained in the draft treaty. Britain has said the backstop, effectively putting Northern Ireland under EU economic control separate from London, is completely unacceptable.

“Member states are rather satisfied,” the diplomat said. “We are still waiting for Ireland’s reaction. Ireland will be discussed further, there is partial convergence of views.”

After meeting EU negotiator Michel Barnier on Monday, Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney tweeted: “Brexit negotiations are moving forward - progress on Irish issues remains a key priority for both negotiating teams and solidarity with our EU partners remains strong.”

Reporting by Gabriela Baczynksa; Writing by Alastair Macdonald; editing by Philip Blenkinsop

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