Published On: Fri, Sep 13th, 2019

Brexit showdown: Johnson faces battle on Juncker's home turf – PM set for Luxembourg clash


The Prime Minister and European Commission chief will sit down for a working lunch after weeks of talks between UK and EU officials. He will also meet Luxembourg’s prime minister, Xavier Bettel, on his diplomatic dash to the Continent. Talks in Brussels have somewhat stalled, with EU capitals frustrated that Mr Johnson has failed to deliver an alternative solution to the controversial Northern Ireland backstop.

Mr Johnson agreed to meet Mr Juncker is his home country to allow the EU chief to travel to the European Parliament in Strasbourg later on Monday.

An EU Commission spokeswoman said: “The reason the lunch is taking place in Luxembourg is that the president has to get to Strasbourg for plenary week in the European Parliament.

“Mr Johnson agreed to come to Luxembourg to facilitate this happening.”

The talks were agreed in “mutual accord” and Mr Juncker looks “forward to working constructively with the Prime Minister”, the spokeswoman added.

 

Their meeting will be Mr Juncker’s first face-to-face showdown with Mr Johnson.

The European Commisison chief served as Luxembourg’s prime minister for 18 years before taking up his role in Brussels.

EU sources are hopeful that their discussions will bring a breakthrough to the Brexit process. 

Mr Johnson has been largely upbeat about the prospect of striking a deal despite many diplomats and officials being in gloomy mood in the Belgian capital.

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Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, on Thursday claimed Brussels is still waiting for “concrete, legally operational proposals” from the UK on Brexit.

He told senior MEPs that the Prime Minister’s team are yet to put forward any alternatives that would warrant reopening the withdrawal agreement.

“We will see in the coming weeks if the British are able to make concrete proposals in writing that are legally operational,” He said during a meeting with political leaders at the EU Parliament.

“While we have previously reached an agreement, as far as we can speak today, we have no reason to be optimistic.

“I cannot tell you objectively whether contacts with the Government of Mr Johnson will be able to reach an agreement by mid-October.”

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