The Taoiseach has said the UK has not come up with proposals to break the Brexit deadlock and to pave the way for deeper negotiations so far.

However, speaking at a Fine Gael event in Dublin Leo Varadkar insisted there was still time to do so.

Mr Varadkar said that next Friday would be a reasonable deadline, but added it was not his job to set one and he did not want to set a false deadline.

He said the basic principle is that this is an international treaty and it is not going to be sorted on the night of the European Council summit, saying member states will need sight of it in advance.

Mr Varadkar says problems remain around the issues of consent and the prospect of customs checks.

He said there was a general view across the EU that an extension was better than a crash out, but said it would have to be granted for a good reason.

The Taoiseach also said that he believes a deal is still possible.

"It is possible at the European Council summit in two weeks' time but the current position as of today is the European Union, including Ireland, doesn't feel that the proposals put forward by Prime Minister Johnson yet form the basis for deeper negotiations," he said.

"But there is plenty of time for the UK Government to put forward further proposals and we are in the process of trying to arrange a meeting between me and Prime Minister Johnson next week." 


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EU and UK officials are to resume talks Monday on Britain's plans for a managed Brexit after a weekend hiatus during which London has come under pressure to revise its proposals.

The European Commission is adamant that, as they stand, "the UK proposals do not provide a basis for concluding an agreement".

That grates with Britain's government, which considers the proposals it submitted on Wednesday to be "a fair and reasonable compromise".

After hours-long talks in Brussels on Friday failed to move the dial, a UK spokesman said: "We want a deal and talks continue on Monday on the basis of our offer."

Time is running short for the two sides to close the gap.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is determined to take the UK out of the European Union at the end of this month.

An 17-18 October EU summit is to determine whether Britain is headed for a Brexit deal, no-deal, or an extension.

A week's window

But European diplomats emphasise that Britain needs to offer revised, viable proposals within days and certainly before the end of next week, so any haggling and legalistic work is done before the summit.

"Everything must move very quickly and any negotiation has to start at the beginning of next week," one diplomat told AFP.

"We will evaluate next Friday whether it's been possible to bring the positions closer."

Although the British Prime Minister has called his Brexit proposals a broad "landing zone", the EU's chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, and his team are unsure how far Britain will budge.

The EU refuses to characterise the talks held so far as negotiations, underlining a preference to stick with a Brexit withdrawal agreement that was struck with Mr Johnson's predecessor Theresa May but rejected three times by British MPs.

The backstop

The main sticking point is a "backstop", which is essentially an insurance policy or safety net that would prevent the reintroduction of a hard border on the island of Ireland after Brexit, while also maintaining the integrity of the EU's single market.

Britain's current idea for an alternative to the backstop - which would see all the UK, or at least Northern Ireland, remaining in the EU's customs union - is for untried technology to remove the need for most but not all border checks, and for EU standards on goods to continue to apply in Northern Ireland to facilitate trade.

The border plan is not acceptable for the EU. It sees the potential for rampant smuggling, especially as Mr Johnson intends for the rest of the UK to diverge from EU labour, environmental and tax norms to aim for a regulation-lite economy on Europe's doorstep.

Nor does the EU agree with a proposal that Northern Ireland's Assembly be given a right to effectively veto the post-Brexit customs arrangement.

If either of those two proposals are red lines for Mr Johnson, it is hard to see the EU moving talks into the negotiation phase.

Yet if he bends on them, he risks losing tenuous support in the UK parliament to maybe pass a Brexit deal, reliant on the ten DUP MPs and hard-core Brexit MPs in his Conservative Party.

Extension option

If thwarted, Mr Johnson's best bet may lie with early elections.

There he also faces a challenge, with the UK parliament having passed a law requiring him to seek a Brexit extension from the EU by 19 October if he has not reached a deal by then.

British media speculated that Mr Johnson might seek to sabotage any extension request he is forced to make against his will.

One path included his ministers asking an EU member state to block the unanimous approval needed for an extension, with Hungary cited as a likely ally to break EU ranks.

But Budapest denied Britain had approached it with such a request, and a Hungarian foreign ministry source told AFP: "To date there is no request for a delay, hence there is no point in speculating about anything."