Boris Johnson to meet European Commission president for working lunch

Meeting seen as unlikely to produce substantive movement on Brexit

Continuing technical discussions  involving Boris  Johnson’s chief negotiator, David Frost, focused on just one aspect of the Northern Ireland Border problem, food and animal movement controls. Photograph:  Christopher Furlong/WPA Pool /Getty Images

Continuing technical discussions involving Boris Johnson’s chief negotiator, David Frost, focused on just one aspect of the Northern Ireland Border problem, food and animal movement controls. Photograph: Christopher Furlong/WPA Pool /Getty Images

 

Boris Johnson will travel to Luxembourg on Monday for a “working lunch” on Brexit with Commission President Jean Claude Juncker. He will also have a meeting with Luxembourg prime minister Xavier Bettel

The first face-to-face meeting with Mr Juncker since Mr Johnson became prime minister is seen in Brussels as unlikely to produce substantive movement and largely as an attempt by the British PM to demonstrate his determination to prove he is engaged in the search for a deal with the EU. Talk of a breakthrough is dismissed as wishful thinking.

Officials continue to insist that the UK team has still not put any formal proposals for an alternative to the backstop which might provide the basis for breakthrough speculation.

Continuing technical discussions on Friday involving Mr Johnson’s chief negotiator, David Frost, focused on just one aspect of the Northern Ireland Border problem, food and animal movement controls. “The UK presented some ideas on an all-island SPS [sanitary and phytosanitary regulations] solution,” a British spokesman said.

On Wednesday he said the discussions had focused on British ideas for “streamlined customs arrangements and how to manage differentiated regulations on manufactured goods as part of ideas on ‘alternative arrangements’.”

Brussels continues to insist that the so-called alternative arrangements to the backstop do not go anywhere towards meeting the requirements of an open border. On Tuesday, EU’s lead Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said that Britain had yet to come up with “legally viable” operational alternatives to avoid a hard border.

Technical discussions will continue again next week in Brussels.