Juncker still waiting on workable solutions on Brexit backstop from Johnson

Boris Johnson and Jean-Claude Juncker meet September 16 to discuss Brexit | Francisco Seco/Getty Images

Juncker still waiting on workable solutions on Brexit backstop from Johnson

A spokesperson for Boris Johnson says talks would now ‘intensify’ and will soon take place on a daily basis.


9/16/19, 3:12 PM CET

Updated 9/16/19, 4:26 PM CET

LUXEMBOURG — The U.K. has not yet produced “legally operational solutions” to the problem of the Northern Ireland border after Brexit, according to a European Commission statement issued after a meeting between Jean-Claude Juncker and Boris Johnson.

It is the first time that the Commission president and U.K. prime minister have met face-to-face since Johnson took over from Theresa May in July. They were accompanied over lunch in Luxembourg by the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier and U.K. Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay.

Both sides billed the meeting as a chance to “take stock” of the talks, but the Commission statement said there had been no game-changing proposals from Johnson’s team. “President Juncker recalled that it is the UK’s responsibility to come forward with legally operational solutions that are compatible with the Withdrawal Agreement,” the Commission statement read. “President Juncker underlined the Commission’s continued willingness and openness to examine whether such proposals meet the objectives of the backstop. Such proposals have not yet been made.”

An EU27 diplomat clarified that “’legally operational’ means that these solutions can be implemented by day one.”

A Downing Street spokesman said the talks had been “constructive,” adding: “The leaders agreed that the discussions needed to intensify and that meetings would soon take place on a daily basis.”

A second EU27 diplomat expressed pessimism about the chances of a deal. “I’m increasingly convinced there is no plan,” he said.

“The only plan is to move [the Irish border problem] into transition,” he added, referring to the standstill period immediately after the U.K. leaves the EU. “They are willing to do a deal but we don’t like what they seem to offer because it’s way over our red lines.”

Jacopo Barigazzi