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Progress made on post-Brexit Irish border: David Davis

No massive step forward in negotiations, says EU chief

By Jonathan Bell and PA

Brexit secretary David Davis has said progress has been made in the Brexit talks on the issue of the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic.

He said the recent round of talks, the fifth between the EU and UK, had resulted in the agreement of joint principals on the joint travel area and how north-south cooperation would work after Brexit. On cooperation he said more work was needed in this area.

"But I am pleased to say progress has been made," he said at a closing news conference in Brussels.

The minister also said they had worked on getting the "necessary protections" required for the Good Friday Agreement, but "focus was needed on creating a specific solution".

He said: "We can't resolve all the issues yet until we know exactly what the final customs and market access arrangements are. When we do we are convinced we will get an agreement that underpins the Good Friday/ Belfast agreement.

"That is common to both sides and we move Heaven and earth to make that happen."

"As the prime minister said," he added, "we owe it to the people of Northern Ireland and those on all Ireland to get this right."

Mr Barnier said negotiations on the status of the Irish border had "advanced" during this week's discussions.

But he said there was "more work to do in order to build a full picture of the challenges to north-south cooperation resulting from the UK - and therefore Northern Ireland - leaving the EU legal framework". 

Mr Davis said the talks had made "significant progress" since June.

On the issue of citizens' rights, he said they were confident there would be agreement "soon" on incorporating the final withdrawal treaty into UK law, ensuring EU nationals in the UK would be able to enforce their rights through the UK courts.

EU citizens would still have to register with the UK authorities but the process would be streamlined to make it as simple as possible.

Those already in possession of a permanent residence card would be able to exchange it for "settled status" without having to go through the full application process again, he added.

Earlier Michel Barnier said he can not recommend that talks progress toward the future trade deal between the EU and UK. He said it could be another two months before he was in that position.

The fifth round of Brexit talks did not make any "massive steps forward", the EU's chief negotiator Michel Barnier has said.

"We clarified some points without however making any great steps forward," he said

Mr Barnier said the EU and UK were in "deadlock" over the question of Britain's financial contribution, which he described as "very disturbing".

"This week, however, the UK repeated that it was still not ready to spell out these commitments," he said.

"There have therefore been no negotiations on this subject. We confined ourselves to technical discussions - useful discussions, but technical discussions. 

"On this question we have reached a state of deadlock which is very disturbing for thousands of project promoters in Europe and it's disturbing also for taxpayers."

Mr Davis said the Government had undertaken a "rigorous examination" of the technical details needed to reach a financial settlement.

"This is not a process for agreeing specific commitments," he said.

"We have been clear that can only come later but it is an important step so that when the time comes we will be able to reach a political agreement quickly and simply."

The Brexit Secretary said to give certainty "we must talk about the future" and called on EU leaders to change Mr Barnier's negotiating mandate.

"I hope the leaders of the 27 will provide Michel with the means to explore ways forward with us on that and build on the spirit of co-operation we now have."

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