Economy, Europe

Brexit ‘backstop’ alternative possible: Merkel

German Chancellor clarifies remarks on Brexit, she did not set 30-day deadline for solution of Irish border backstop problem

Ayhan Şimşek   | 22.08.2019
Brexit ‘backstop’ alternative possible: Merkel German Chancellor Angela Merkel (L) arrives to welcome British Prime Minister Boris Johnson (not seen) with a military ceremony in Berlin, Germany on August 21, 2019. ( Abdülhamid Hoşbaş - Anadolu Agency )

BERLIN

The EU and the U.K. could find a solution to the Brexit backstop problem until Oct. 31, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Thursday. 

Speaking at a joint news conference with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte following their meeting in the Hague, Merkel clarified her earlier remarks on the Brexit and said she did not set a 30-day deadline for a solution to the Irish border backstop problem.

"I have said that what one can achieve in three or two years, can also be achieved in 30 days. Better said, one must say that one can achieve a solution by October 31," Merkel said, adding that the British government wants to leave the EU by this date.

Merkel’s earlier remarks on Wednesday, following her meeting with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, was interpreted by some media outlets as if she had given Britain a 30-day deadline to come up with an alternative solution to the contested Irish border backstop.

The backstop mechanism was designed as a safety measure to ensure open borders between the EU member Ireland and the British region of Northern Ireland, if the U.K. leaves the EU without a deal this year.

Britain's Parliament has repeatedly rejected the Brexit deal concluded by previous Prime Minister Theresa May, as many lawmakers argued that the backstop arrangement could force the U.K. to follow the EU rules for an indefinite time.

Johnson has told Merkel on Wednesday that the U.K. wanted a deal with the EU, but insisted that first the controversial backstop arrangement should be removed.

"If we can do that, then I am absolutely certain that we can move forward together," he told reporters.

Johnson has repeatedly stated that he would take the U.K. out of the EU by Oct. 31 and that although he is confident in negotiating a deal with Brussels, he was also making preparations for a no-deal Brexit.

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