'Better vibe' coming from Brexit negotiations, says Taoiseach Leo Varadkar
TAOISEACH Leo Varadkar has said that there is a "better vibe" coming out of Brexit negotiations, but added that there is still much work to do.
Mr Varadkar was speaking as he arrived at an informal meeting of EU leaders in the Estonian capital Tallinn, which is hosting a Digital Summit.
"On Brexit there's definitely a better vibe and a better mood coming out of negotiations between Michel Barnier and David Davis, but I think it's still very evident that work needs to be done," the Taoiseach said.
"We're not yet at a stage where sufficient progress has been made to allow us to talk about the new relationship on trade and I don't think we'll be able to make that call until later in the month."
British and EU leaders are set to hold further negotiations at a summit on October 19 and 20, to decide whether there has been "sufficient progress" on three key issues - Northern Ireland, the rights of EU citizens living in Britain and the UK's divorce bill.
Questions about trade - which British negotiators are keen to address - have been put on hold until there is deemed to be progress in the three areas mentioned above.
Mr Varadkar painted a more positive picture than the head of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, who said that "miracles" were needed.
"By the end of October we will not have sufficient progress. I'm saying there will be no sufficient progress from now until October unless miracles will happen," said Mr Juncker.
The Taoiseach said that the current row between Boeing and Bombardier - which could put jobs at the aerospace giant's Belfast base at risk - was further proof that the European continent was "stronger together as a trading bloc" and could be "a lesson for the United Kingdom".
The US Department of Commerce has proposed a 220% tariff on the imported sale of Bombardier's new C-Series jets into the US - an aircraft whose wings are made in Belfast - after Boeing complained to the US authorities about state subsidies paid to Bombardier by the UK and Canada.
The US International Trade Commission is to decide in February whether to uphold or reject the proposed tariff.
Mr Varadkar said: "When the Brexit referendum went through and in the months since then, there's been a lot of talk about a new trade deal between the UK and the United States and how great that would be for the United Kingdom."
"And yet, we're now talking about the possibility of a trade war between the UK and the United States. I think what it demonstrates is that every country in Europe is actually a small country."
He added: "Britain isn't even in the top 20 countries in the world in terms of population. Germany is 18th. We're actually stronger together as a trading bloc. Perhaps that's something for people to consider."