Ireland Close to Winning Brexit Goals, Varadkar Says

  • U.K. offer on avoiding hard border key for talks to move ahead
  • EU will consult with Ireland before talks go to phase two

Ireland is well on its way to meeting its objectives in the Brexit negotiations, Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said, as the European Union and the U.K. approach a deadline for moving on to talks about their future trading relationship.

A day after European Commission President Donald Tusk said the EU would consult with Ireland before deciding whether to allow negotiations to move on to phase two later this month, Varadkar made clear he sees his country in a strong position.

Leo Varadkar

Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

“We’re well on our way to achieving what we wanted” after the U.K. voted to leave the EU last year, Varadkar said in an RTE radio interview Saturday. A transition period “looks done and dusted” and maintaining the Common Travel Area is “there or thereabouts,” he said.

Varadkar reiterated that Ireland wants talks to move to the next phase, but would not endorse that move without an acceptable offer from the U.K. on the future of the border with Northern Ireland. U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May is working against the clock to find a way of avoiding a policed border on the island, without alienating the Northern Irish party that props up her government in London. Only when the EU accepts the U.K.’s proposed solution will Brexit negotiations move on to the trade talks that Britain wants to start this month.

Before moving to phase two “we want to be clear about the parameters of those talks and that means having a written assurance that there will be an avoidance of a hard border and there are a number of ways to do that,” Varadkar said.

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