Brexit talks would overrun by months if progress on a deal continues at the current pace, Yahoo’s research reveals.
The first concrete advance on the draft Withdrawal Agreement since March was announced on Tuesday in a joint statement by the UK government and European Commission.
It revealed agreement had been found on nine more of the draft treaty’s 184 articles.
Brexit Secretary David Davis said it showed they were “taking important steps forward.”
Today we have published a joint statement on progress in the Brexit negotiations, ahead of the European Council next week. There remains work to be done but we are taking important steps forward. https://t.co/WvTKFtqHV0 #roadtobrexit
— David Davis (@DavidDavisMP) June 19, 2018
But our analysis of the latest agreement found it covered just 5% of Brexit issues.
When the draft Withdrawal Agreement was last updated on 19 March, 135 articles had been agreed – meaning 73% of Brexit work had been completed.
Tuesday’s announcement took the total number of articles agreed to 144 – leaving 78% of the draft deal done.
That progress was the product of 11 days of intensive talks between UK and EU negotiators over the last three months.
With 22% of issues left unresolved, it would take more than 12 months to finalise a Brexit deal if progress continues at the same pace.
European Commission vice-president Valdis Dombrovskis said both sides needed to speed-up the process when asked about the situation by Yahoo UK.
“It’s important elements which are still outstanding, including on the Irish border and time is running ahead,” he said.
“We’re already in June, so indeed it’s time to intensify this effort and to reach common ground in this important area.”
More than a quarter of the unresolved issues are related to Northern Ireland’s situation after Brexit.
And the stalemate over a “backstop” solution to avoiding a hard border in Ireland has led European leaders to seriously contemplate the prospect of a “no deal” Brexit.
Draft conclusions for next week’s European Council summit calls on member states to “step up their work on preparedness at all levels and for all outcomes.”
Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said he wanted to see “substantial progress” towards a solution by the summit which will be attended by Theresa May.
But the draft conclusions show EU leaders are set to “express concern” to the prime minister that “no substantial progress has yet been achieved.”
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker is in Dublin today to discuss the issue.
He will use a joint press conference with Varadkar and an address to the parliament to put pressure on the UK government to bring forward their plans for a workable backstop or agree to the EU’s plan.