European Council President Donald Tusk said on March 20 that full support from all of the EU-27 Member States for a transition agreement with the UK remains elusive.
“Our negotiators have found a solution on several parts of the withdrawal agreement. Can all 27 Member States welcome it at the European Council? That remains an open question.”, said Tusk, who chairs the European Heads of State or Government. “I still need a few hours to consult some of the most concerned Member States,” he added.
European leaders will meet on March 23, without Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May, to assess progress in negotiations with the UK and adopt guidelines for a transition period, according to the plan. The move will allow the European Commission’s negotiator Michel Barnier to discuss a framework for the future relationship between the EU and UK.
Barnier, himself, told journalists on March 20 that Spain is concerned about the conditions that will apply to Gibraltar once the UK leaves the EU in 2019.
“On two occasions, the Heads of State and Government of the 27 Member States have confirmed that no agreement between the European Union and the United Kingdom will be applicable to Gibraltar without a bilateral agreement between the London and Madrid on issues that are currently under discussion,” Barnier added. “I know these discussions are underway and moving forward.”
The main stumbling block in the negotiations between London and Brussels remains the question of what type of border will be in place between Ireland and Northern Ireland. Dublin and Brussels have insisted, with strong support from the regional government in Belfast, that Ulster should continue to operate within the EU’s free trade and freedom of movement regulations.