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EU: Brexit Deal Possible This Week     10/15 06:05

   The European Union said Tuesday that a Brexit divorce deal is possible this 
week but that the British government's proposals so far are not sufficient to 
seal an agreement.

   LUXEMBOURG (AP) -- The European Union said Tuesday that a Brexit divorce 
deal is possible this week but that the British government's proposals so far 
are not sufficient to seal an agreement.

   The EU's Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said ahead of a meeting of EU 
ministers that the main challenge now is to turn British proposals on the 
complex issue of the border on the island of Ireland into something binding.

   Barnier said it is "high time to turn good intentions into a legal text."

   Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok said the British proposals to keep the 
Irish border protected from smuggling and fraud once the U.K. leaves the bloc 
remain insufficient.

   "The U.K. proposal contained some steps forward but not enough to guarantee 
that the internal market will be protected," Blok said.

   EU leaders are meeting for a two-day summit in Brussels from Thursday. 
Brexit will top the agenda as the Oct. 31 Brexit deadline looms.

   "Even if an agreement will be difficult --- more and more difficult, we 
think --- it is still possible this week," Barnier said.

   EU ministers insisted it was for Prime Minister Boris Johnson to make the 
next move, with French Europe Minister Amelie de Montchalin saying that the EU 
nations "will be firm on our fundamentals."

   Meanwhile, the insistence that the summit this week would be a cutoff moment 
is quickly fading.

   Three EU nations have predicted the negotiations could spill over into next 
week.

   Antti Rinne, prime minister of Finland, which currently holds the rotating 
EU presidency, said in Helsinki late Monday that he had given up hope for a 
quick breakthrough ahead of the Brexit summit.

   "There is no time in a practical way, and in legal base, to reach an 
agreement before the meeting," Rinne said. "We need to have more time."

   Blok agreed. "Let's use the remaining time until the Oct. 31."  There has 
been increasing talk about an extra summit close to the end of the month.

   Technical teams from Britain and the EU worked through the weekend and 
Monday, but both sides said significant gaps remained between their positions.


(KR)

 
 
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