September 24, 2019 / 9:12 AM / 20 days ago

EU's Barnier not optimistic about Irish 'backstop' solution

FILE PHOTO: European Union's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier arrives at a meeting with European Council President Donald Tusk (not pictured) in Brussels, Belgium, August 22, 2019. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

BERLIN (Reuters) - There is no reason to be optimistic that Britain and the European Union will find a solution to the question of the Irish “backstop”, the bloc’s Brexit negotiator said on Tuesday.

“The question is: does the UK have an equally effective and operational alternative to our safety net? I see no particular reason today, to be honest, for optimism,” Michel Barnier said in a speech at the Association of German Newspaper Publishers (BDZV) in Berlin.

The Irish “backstop”, part of the Withdrawal Agreement that former Prime Minister Theresa May struck in November, is the key sticking point in efforts to agree an orderly British exit from the EU.

Reporting by Joseph Nasr; Editing by Thomas Seythal

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