European Union leaders were locked in intensive Brexit talks last night amid claims the complex untangling of Britain from the EU could take up to a decade to resolve.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny and leaders from the other 26 EU member states met yesterday as a power struggle between the European Council and European Parliament emerged.
Under plans outlined by the MP leading Britain’s EU removal, Brexit secretary David Davis, while Britain is seeking to enact Brexit in March and to officially leave the EU 18 months later, a “transition” period will also be needed to untangle both groups from each other.
This situation, said Mr Davis, could last up to 10 years due to court cases, over-riding commercial agreements and other issues impacting on a clean Brexit.
The claim was one of a number of issues discussed late last night, after an earlier meeting on migration and the crisis in the Ukraine was attended by UK prime minister Theresa May — who was asked to leave before the Brexit talks began.
It is believed Mr Kenny again pressed his European colleagues on the need to allow a common travel area between the Republic and Britain and to stress the unique priorities of the Irish border, which could be mitigated by a “soft” Brexit.
However, other EU leaders are concerned anything other than a “hard” Brexit could incentivise other nations facing political upheaval — including Italy and Austria — to step back from the EU.
The Brexit debate took place as a potentially damaging power struggle between the European Council and the European Parliament emerged over which group will have control over the Brexit negotiations.
While MEPs are keen to have a role to play, European Council president Donald Tusk has made it clear it is the Council’s responsibility.
Meanwhile, European Affairs Minister Dara Murphy has slammed a UK House of Lords report’s suggestion this week Ireland and Britain could cut a separate post-Brexit deal outside of EU talks as “nonsensical”. “Our position is absolutely clear, we will be staying within the union,” he said.
Ireland could be asked to take in extra migrants from fellow member states facing “crisis” levels of refugees under migration reforms set to be discussed in March.
The potential plan was discussed as controversial Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan was asked to attend a linked asylum conference next year.
While the existing migration system will remain in most circumstances, if the Greek and Italian emergencies are repeated other nations will be ordered to take in more people to ease pressures.
The move will be mandatory as it is under the Dublin convention, but is likely to face opposition.
The potential change will be debated during March’s European Council meeting alongside a linked asylum conference with Mr Erdogan.
The reforms were influenced by an impassioned speech by an Aleppo survivor yesterday.
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