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Leo Varadkar: EU leaders 'likely' to give go-ahead for new phase of Brexit talks

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar arriving for an EU summit in Brussels in October. Picture by Olivier Matthys, Associated Press
Staff Reporter

EUROPEAN Union leaders are "likely" to give the go-ahead for Brexit talks to move to the next phase, the Taoiseach told the Dáil yesterday.

The EU's chief negotiator Michel Barnier had warned that talks on the Irish border, Britain's financial settlement and the rights of citizens must make sufficient progress before key issues, including any future trade agreement, could be discussed.

Despite no agreement on how the border will be managed after Brexit, Leo Varadkar told TDs that it is his belief Brexit talks will proceed to the next phase, which is focussed on trade, after the EU leaders meet next month.

Mr Varadkar also said it is "not going to be possible" to settle the border issue until the future relationship between the UK and EU is discussed.

Responding to questions from Labour TD Joan Burton, the Taoiseach said: "I am now of the view that I think it is likely that we will be able to say that sufficient progress has been made at the December meeting, allowing us to move on to discussions on transition and the future arrangements, but that is just my predictor at this stage".

He added: "It is not going to be possible to fully resolve the border question until we start to talk about the future relationship that the UK will have with the European Union".

"There will come a point when it is in our interests to actually start talking about that," he said.

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