Brexit Talks Likely to Progress in December, Irish PM Says

  • Varadkar says more optimistic than previously on trade talks
  • Irish border one of three issues needing sufficient progress
Leo Varadkar, Ireland's prime minister, speaks during an interview in Toronto, Ontario, Canada on Aug. 21, 2017. Varadkar said he remains "confused and puzzled" about the U.K.'s global trading plans after Brexit, as the clock ticks down in talks on the terms of Britain's exit from the European Union. Photographer: Cole Burston/Bloomberg

Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said it’s likely European Union leaders will green light Brexit negotiations to move to their next phase in December.

“I am more optimistic than I was in the weeks before the October summit,” Varadkar said in parliament in Dublin on Wednesday. “That may change.”

The question of what happens the Irish border is one of three key issues that have been identified, along with citizens’ rights and money owed by the U.K., that require “sufficient progress” toward a resolution before the EU will allow talks to move on to Britain’s future trade relationship with the bloc. Last month, leaders decided enough progress hadn’t been made to allow talks move ahead.

Varadkar also said it won’t be possible to finally answer the question of the border with Northern Ireland until the future EU-UK relationship is settled. After the U.K. leaves the union, Ireland’s 310-mile (500-kilometer) border running from near Derry in the north to Dundalk in the south will form the EU’sland border with Britain. Checks have largely melted away after a peace agreement in the 1990s and both countries joined the single market.

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