EU gives cautious welcome to Boris Johnson’s Brexit plan but warns ‘problematic points’ remain
The EU has given a given a cautious welcome to Boris Johnson’s new Brexit plan but warned there will still “some problematic points”.
Jean-Claude Juncker “acknowledged the positive advances” made by the Prime Minister towards getting a deal, however added “further work” was needed on the backstop.
He will now speak to Irish PM Leo Varadkar about the potential changes to the controversial mechanism, which aims to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland.
In a statement, the European Commission said its president Mr Juncker spoke to Mr Johnson on the phone on Wednesday afternoon following the publication of the UK’s offer.
It said he welcomed the PM's “determination to advance the talks ahead of the October European Council and make progress towards a deal”.
And he labelled the move towards full regulatory alignment for goods entering Northern Ireland from Great Britain as “positive”.
Earlier Mr Johnson had called on the EU to avoid a "failure of statecraft" as he unveiled his long-awaited plan to replace the Irish backstop.
In a letter to Mr Juncker he urged Brussels to show a “willingness to compromise” in a bid to stop Britain leaving the EU without a deal at the end of the month.
He branded the current backstop "a bridge to nowhere", but the EU were less positive about his plans to replace them.
The spokesman said: “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.
“The delicate balance struck by the Good Friday Agreement must be preserved.”
Adding: “Another concern that needs to be addressed are the substantive customs rules.”
The EU said Mr Juncker confirmed to Mr Johnson his officials will examine the UK’s legal text “objectively”, and that meetings between the two negotiation teams will take place in Brussels over the coming days.