05 December, 2017
Prime Minister Theresa May and European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker.
Those words were meant to provide reassurance to the Irish government that, should the European Union and the United Kingdom not be able to reach a trade deal, there would be a backstop that would guarantee trade across the border would continue pretty much as it does now.
In a joint press conference following the meeting, both leaders tried to put a positive gloss on the outcome, saying they were within touching distance of a deal.
An EU official, who will be consulted by Mr Barnier and Mr Juncker ahead of Monday's lunch with the Prime Minister, added "it was more likely than unlikely" that an agreement on withdrawal issues will be reached. But she said talks would reconvene later this week "and I am also confident we will conclude this positively".
London has broadly agreed to numerous EU's divorce terms, including paying out something like 50 billion euros.
Despite intense efforts over the weekend to agree on a proposal on how to avoid a hard border in Ireland, Irish officials revealed on Sunday night that "there is still a way to go" to achieve a meeting of minds on the issue, reports the Guardian. But the issues of the rights of expatriate citizens and the UK-EU border on the island of Ireland defied a deal until the last minute.
After Britain leaves the bloc, the now invisible 310-mile (500-kilometer) frontier will be the U.K.'s only land border with an European Union country.More news: Nth Korea open to talks if 'recognised' by US
Dublin has claimed the United Kingdom government has not yet tabled a serious or credible plan to avoiding a hard border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland after Brexit, if the United Kingdom quits the EU's single market and customs union.
One solution is to allow Northern Ireland to stay in the customs union when the rest of the United Kingdom leaves. The pro-British Unionist party opposes any special status that could take Northern Ireland further from Britain and closer to the Republic of Ireland.
"We can not align the regulation of one part of the United Kingdom with the European Union", he said.
European Council President Donald Tusk cautioned that time was running short.
But that task has been complicated by the DUP's show of strength, the publication of the sensitive wording from the draft negotiating text and Leo Varadkar's public insistence that the British government had signed up to a formula which the DUP found so hard to swallow.
"It is now getting very tight but agreement at December (summit) is still possible", he tweeted.