European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said Wednesday he had “no emotional attachment” to the Brexit backstop but had told British Prime Minister Boris Johnson he was committed to its objectives.
The issue was at the centre of a first meeting Monday between Johnson and Juncker in Luxembourg.
It comes as technical talks between London and Brussels resumed in recent weeks, but the European side has been frustrated at the lack of concrete proposals from London over a new withdrawal deal.
“The risk of a no-deal (Brexit) remains very real.
“I am not sure that we will succeed.
“There is very little time left. But I am certain that we have to try,” Juncker told EU lawmakers.
He added that the EU would try hard to avoid this scenario.
The backstop is a key sticking point in the Brexit divorce deal negotiated between London and Brussels to smooth Britain’s departure from the European Union.
Johnson rejects it, while insisting that he will not delay Brexit beyond Oct. 31.
“I told Prime Minister Johnson that I have no emotional attachment to the backstop. But I made clear that I do have an intimate commitment to its objectives,” Juncker told EU lawmakers.
He invited Johnson to make “concrete, operational, written” proposals on alternative ways of reaching these objectives, Juncker added, at the European Parliament’s plenary session in the French city of Strasbourg.
“It is not enough to explain to us why the backstop should be removed.
“We need legally operational solutions” to respond to the problems created by Brexit, added EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier, who attended Monday’s talks.
(Edited by Emmanuel Yashim)