Bettel says United Kingdom must 'take decisions now' on Brexit

Bettel says United Kingdom must 'take decisions now' on Brexit

"What Michel Barnier has indicated very clearly is that the European Union side, certainly, is willing to allow more time in the transition period to agree an alternative solution to a backstop", Mr Coveney told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

"What I feel today is that we are closer to the final solutions and the deal", Tusk said.

The EU has said extending that period would give more time to strike a trade deal that ensures the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland remains friction-free _ the main sticking point in the Brexit talks.

Speaking on the third day of the EU summit meeting in Brussels, Varadkar said without an Irish backstop any withdrawal treaty may fail to be ratified by the European Parliament.

"If the United Kingdom decided that an extension of the transition period would be helpful to reach a deal", Tusk added, "I am sure that the leaders would be ready to consider it positively".

British Prime Minister Theresa May said Thursday she is considering a European Union proposal that would keep Britain bound to the bloc's rules for more than two years after it leaves, and idea that angers her pro-Brexit critics in the United Kingdom.

Lidington rejected claims that an extension would cost Britain more than $13.1 billion U.S. in payments to the European Union in order to stay in the bloc's single market and customs union for another year.

"A further idea that has emerged, and it is an idea at this stage, is to create an option to extend the implementation period for a matter of months, and it would only be a matter months", May told reporters on the second day of the summit.

Theresa May has told business leaders she knows time is running out to reach a Brexit deal but she is confident it can be done, the head of the Institute of Directors has said.

"It is precisely one of those things that needs to be teased out and addressed, whether we felt and the European Union felt it was the right approach to take".

Earlier, May had urged her fellow leaders to work with her to find a "creative way out of this dilemma" on Ireland, a British official said.

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The letter signed by former British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, ex-Brexit Secretary David Davis and other pro-Brexit Conservatives warned May not to "engage in a show of resistance and a choreographed argument followed by surrender" to the EU.

"We have got to find a way of addressing the border question but, I repeat, we must have an agreement on the backstop".

Mrs O'Neill said: "In order to preserve her toxic alliance with the DUP, she is trampling over the rights of citizens by acquiescing to that party's refusal to share power (at Stormont) on the basis of equality".

But EU chiefs indicated it could be extended when they met at the European Council summit this week in Brussels.

While the Irish border issue is holding up a comprehensive Brexit deal, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez says the status of Gibraltar won't be an obstacle.

Lithuanian president Dalia Grybauskaite claimed the Prime Minister didn't have a "strong mandate".

Leaders, who made an effort to send positive messages on their way in, listened to May for about 15 minutes before having dinner without her.

Previously, both sides had agreed that Britain crashing out of the Union on March 29 next year with neither a divorce agreement nor a road-map to future ties would be an economic and diplomatic disaster.

At a press conference in Brussels, Mrs May said an extension to the transition period "could be a further solution to this issue of the backstop in Northern Ireland". But the problem is we can not have a border in Ireland between the Republic and the province [of Northern Ireland].

"There is a genuine fear among fishermen that any extension to the UK's time in the Brexit waiting room would be used by the European Union to place conditions on the return of fish stocks that are rightfully ours". 'But only so many - and we have looked at all of them.

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