Will EU compromise after receiving UK Brexit proposals?


London : The prime minister says he has delivered a “constructive and reasonable” plan to Brussels, containing UK compromises on finding alternative arrangements to the Irish backstop in a Brexit deal.

Now it’s the EU’s turn, he reasons.

So what compromises, if any, is the EU now willing to make?

Well, Brussels’ mantra since Boris Johnson became prime minister has been: we already compromised in our backstop agreement with Theresa May, if the UK’s new PM wants to rip up that agreement and start again, then the onus is on him, not the EU, to find an alternative solution.

The EU has said it needed concrete, legally operable, realistic UK proposals on the table before it could entertain re-thinking its position.

UK proposals have now been delivered but the EU suspicion is that they are neither realistic, nor legally operable as they stand.

And before anyone objects that “the EU was always going to pour cold water on the PM’s offer, whatever he said!” let me tell you, it’s not all gloom.

Before the EU read the prime minister’s offer, many predicted it would confirm their suspicion that his focus was on a domestic UK audience and on an upcoming general election – not on engaging with the EU.

But senior diplomats told me on Wednesday night that some of Boris Johnson’s proposals were “better than expected”.

“His offer on regulatory alignment (keeping Northern Ireland tied to EU rules on goods) was great, as was the tone of his covering letter to Jean-Claude Juncker,” one northern European diplomat told me. “All very professional. I believe he wants a deal. That it wasn’t just rhetoric.”