October 2, 2019 / 4:35 PM / 9 months ago

EU says UK Brexit proposal has 'positive advances' but still 'problematic points'

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The proposal made on Wednesday by Britain for a deal on its departure from the European Union included “positive advances” but there are still “some problematic points that will need further work in the coming days”, the European Commission said.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker attends the conference Communication Connecting Europe and Asia, in Brussels, Belgium September 27, 2019. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker told British Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a phone call that the EU’s executive would examine the legal text objectively and in light of the bloc’s “well-known criteria,” it said in a statement.

Juncker welcomed Johnson’s determination to advance the talks before the October European Council and make progress towards a deal, it said.

“He acknowledged the positive advances, notably with regards to the full regulatory alignment for all goods and the control of goods entering Northern Ireland from Great Britain.

“However, the President also noted that there are still some problematic points that will need further work in the coming days, notably with regards to the governance of the backstop,” it added, referring to a mechanism included in a now-abandoned agreement to keep an open border on the island of Ireland.

It said the “delicate balance” on the island that was achieved by the Good Friday Agreement which ended three decades of conflict must be preserved.

Another concern that needs to be addressed are the substantive customs rules, it said.

The Commission added that there must be a legally operational solution that meets all the objectives of the backstop: preventing a hard border, preserving North-South cooperation and the all-island economy, and protecting the EU’s Single Market and Ireland’s place in it.

It said meetings between the EU and British negotiation teams would take place in Brussels over the coming days.

“The EU wants a deal. We remain united and ready to work 24/7 to make this happen – as we have been for over three years now,” it said.

Reporting by John Chalmers, Editing by Angus MacSwan

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