Every effort needs to be made to avoid a hard Brexit – Juncker

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker stressed on Friday that “every effort” should be made to avoid a no-deal Brexit between now and a crucial ratification vote in the British parliament, scheduled for next Tuesday.

The head of the European executive said that the Commission and he himself were in continuous contact with Downing Street as British Prime Minister Theresa May continued to seek new arguments to convince Parliament to ratify the withdrawal accord negotiated with the remaining 27 EU members.

“No-deal would be a catastrophe, both for our British friends and for continental Europeans, so every effort must be made between now and Tuesday to bring this important issue to a good conclusion,” Juncker said at a press conference in Bucharest, also attended by Romanian President Klaus Iohannis.

With just a few days to go before the vote, scheduled for late Tuesday, the rejection of the deal seems very probable. May has been seeking assurances from her European partners, particularly on the temporary nature of the backstop if this last-resort solution aimed at avoiding the return of a physical border between Ireland and Northern Ireland needed to be applied at the end of a transition period.

“We are in the process of seeing with 10 Downing Street what these clarifications might be but this should not be confused with negotiation, particularly when it comes to the backstop,” Juncker said, adding that he did not wish to comment on the ongoing negotiations.

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