European Union leader, Jean-Claude Juncker and Prime Minister, Theresa May, on Thursday agreed to hold further talks on Britain’s withdrawal from European Union(EU) after what they described as a “robust” meeting.
EU negotiator, Michel Barnier, will meet Britain’s Brexit Minister, Stephen Barclay, on Monday in Strasbourg, France while May and Juncker will meet again before the end of February.
In a joint statement issued after May met Juncker at EU headquarters in Brussels, they both confirmed that the EU leader had warned the British Prime Minister that the Brexit withdrawal deal cannot be renegotiated.
But he “expressed his openness to add wording” to a parallel political declaration laying out ambitions for future EU-UK ties if London wants to seek a “more ambitious” closer relationship after Brexit.
May, however, urged that the withdrawal agreement itself be changed. She reminded Juncker that the British parliament had mandated her to seek “a legally binding change to the terms of the backstop.”
There is a clause in the withdrawal agreement, signed in November 2018, that would keep Britain in the EU customs union even after a post Brexit transition period if no way is found to keep the Irish border open.
“The discussion was robust but constructive. Despite the challenges, the two leaders agreed that their teams should hold talks as to whether a way through can be found that would gain the broadest possible support in the UK Parliament and respect the guidelines agreed by the European Council,” the joint statement read in part.
If no agreement is reached on the withdrawal deal, which has yet to be approved by either the British or EU parliaments, Britain will crash out of the union with no follow-on trade arrangements on March 29.