The clock is ticking, EU warns Britain of poor Brexit progress

Brexit news BBC Newsnight Theresa May Northern Ireland

Brexit news BBC Newsnight Theresa May Northern Ireland

Michel Barnier, the EU's chief Brexit negotiator, told ministers from the remaining 27 member states that "little progress" had been made on the issues of Ireland and governance since the Council last met in March.

"More work is needed to prepare for the UK's orderly withdrawal... - What we are concerned is in particular the question of Northern Ireland, where we expect a significant compromise from the British side".

"I mentioned our slight puzzlement about what had happened with the commission's decision on Galileo and the satellite", Johnson said.

Last December, the United Kingdom and European Union agreed the need for a "backstop" option that would ensure no return of a hard border - through an alignment of regulations across the island - even if a wider Brexit trade deal failed to materialise.

"The June deadline is the deadline that must be seen as the ultimate deadline" to find a way to avoid a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland and allow progress in Brexit talks, Le Drian said.

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"We are happy to be flexible if the British government comes forward with some new thinking, but what we are not flexible on is the outcome", Coveney said.

Under a customs partnership, Britain could collect tariffs on the EU's behalf.

In an article for the Sunday Times at the weekend, Prime Minister Theresa May said her government was aiming to "leave the customs union so we can establish our own independent trade policy and negotiate trade deals in our interests".

While both sides want to continue close cooperation on internal security and foreign policy after Brexit, even this area, previously seen as an easy part of the unprecedented divorce negotiations, has seen a series of recent hiccups.

The UK must make significant progress on an Irish Border "backstop" agreement by June for European Union withdrawal talks to continue, Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney has said.

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"I just cannot see how the United Kingdom being outside the customs union can possibly work with an open border on the island of Ireland".

Other outstanding issues include guarantees for expatriate rights, agreeing on security cooperation and trade rules after Brexit, to ensure a deal is in place when Britain leaves in March 2019, and an adaptation period ends at the end of 2020.

The document is due to be formally unveiled at an event later this month where Immigration Minister Caroline Nokes is set to give a keynote speech, the report said.

Mr Coveney is adamant, however, that London must present its proposals within the next few weeks; "if there is a new approach that can held get us there then we're happy to talk about that, as is the Barnier task force".

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