Meanwhile, across the English channel, EU waits

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker waves to the media before before his meeting with Lithuania's Gitanas Nauseda at the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, Thursday, Sept. 5, 2019. The British parliament moved to take a no-deal Brexit off the table, raising questions about whether the deadline for Britain to leave should be pushed back beyond October 31. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)
A man pushes a bicycle outside the European Parliament in Brussels, Thursday, Sept. 5, 2019. As Brexit recriminations reached fever pitch in London Thursday, Britain's European Union partners were still waiting for Prime Minister Boris Johnson's first suggestions on how to end the impasse over their divorce agreement and showed no sign of willingness grant any extension for the country to leave. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)
European Union chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier is seen in silhouette as he attends a weekly meeting of the College of Commissioners at EU headquarters in Brussels, Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2019. The European Union says so far it has received no proposals from the British government aimed at overcoming the impasse in Brexit talks. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)
European Council President Donald Tusk walks by the EU flag prior to a meeting with Lithuania's Gitanas Nauseda at the European Council headquarters in Brussels, Thursday, Sept. 5, 2019. The British parliament moved to take a no-deal Brexit off the table, raising questions about whether the deadline for Britain to leave should be pushed back beyond October 31. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)
Commuters walk past the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, Thursday, Sept. 5, 2019. As Brexit recriminations reached fever pitch in London Thursday, Britain's European Union partners were still waiting for Prime Minister Boris Johnson's first suggestions on how to end the impasse over their divorce agreement and showed no sign of willingness grant any extension for the country to leave. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)
Commuters walk past the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, Thursday, Sept. 5, 2019. As Brexit recriminations reached fever pitch in London Thursday, Britain's European Union partners were still waiting for Prime Minister Boris Johnson's first suggestions on how to end the impasse over their divorce agreement and showed no sign of willingness grant any extension for the country to leave. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)
European Union chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier, right, is greeted by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker during a weekly meeting of the College of Commissioners at EU headquarters in Brussels, Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2019. The European Union says so far it has received no proposals from the British government aimed at overcoming the impasse in Brexit talks. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)

BRUSSELS — As Brexit recriminations reached fever pitch in London Thursday, Britain's European Union partners were keeping their distance.

For weeks, they've been waiting for Britain's new prime minister, Boris Johnson, to make a concrete suggestion on how to end the impasse over their divorce agreement. Without any fundamental change of approach, they are showing little willingness to grant another extension to Britain's departure from the bloc.

All they can do in the febrile atmosphere in London where Johnson has lost a series of votes in Parliament is to continue to wait. It's clear that Britain's departure from the EU is reaching a new moment of truth that could see Johnson's government fall, a general election next month and potentially a referendum further out on the country's exit.

Johnson has said he would "step up the tempo" in Brexit negotiations but there are few signs of any progress.

While the sides are holding technical level talks aimed at finding a way forward, no new proposals have been made on the main sticking point — how to maintain a seamless and open border between EU member Ireland and Northern Ireland, which is part of the U.K.

To most EU ears, Johnson's hoped-for deal appears to be purely intended for domestic consumption.

"For the talks to make progress, we would need to receive concrete proposals that are compatible with the withdrawal agreement," European Commission spokeswoman Mina Andreeva told reporters Thursday, a day after the first round of technical talks.

The commission is running Brexit negotiations on behalf of Britain's 27 European partners. Andreeva said Johnson's negotiator David Frost and EU counterparts have "agreed to meet again on Friday." Two further rounds are scheduled for next week, should there be anything to discuss, notably on the Irish border question.

Britain wants the backstop removed from the divorce agreement. The EU insists it must stay until a better way is found to ensure that no hard border is erected between two communities once plagued by conflict.

"For all the PM's bluster about getting a deal, there are no real negotiations going on in Brussels, despite the EU's door remaining wide open," said Philippe Lamberts, a member of the European Parliament's Brexit Steering Group and Greens party leader.

"It's quite clear that Johnson's disingenuous strategy is designed to push the U.K. off a no-deal cliff-edge and to cement his own position regardless of the costs to the British people," Lamberts said after talks at the assembly with the EU's Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier on Wednesday.

Beyond differences of opinion over the pace of Johnson's "blistering" negotiations agenda, the EU is reluctant to consider any Brexit extension beyond Oct. 31. The original deadline was March 29 and that's been extended twice to the current Brexit date.

British lawmakers are well on course to enacting a law that would compel the government to seek a delay rather than crash out without an agreement on Halloween; a move with heavy economic and political costs. That delay could last three more months.

French President Emmanuel Macron argued in April when the latest extension was approved that a long delay could weaken the EU's institutions and undermine the way the bloc operates. He has opposed repeated extensions, saying the EU must not be "trapped in the Brexit's uncertainty."

Meeting Johnson in Paris last month, he reaffirmed his priority was "to protect the European project." He also told reporters that he sees no reason to grant a further delay unless there's a major political change, such as a general election in Britain or a new referendum, to justify it.

Finland's Prime Minister Antti Rinne, whose country currently holds the EU's rotating presidency, has said an extension lacks widespread support, and to be acceptable would probably require "some sort of future scenario ... to underline that something sensible could start happening."

He told reporters Wednesday that there is "no sense" granting Britain an extension "that seems to lead nowhere, and I don't think it's possible to find majority support for such an extension." The EU, Rinne said, needs "a perspective that would change the situation for a sensible, better direction."

___

Jari Tanner in Helsinki and Sylvie Corbet in Paris contributed to this report.

People also read these

Animal welfare group and Albania quarrel over 3...

Apr 18, 2019

An international animal welfare charity is locked in a spat with the Albanian government over three...

Albania holds local elections amid political...

Jun 30, 2019

Albanians have started to cast ballots to elect mayors and city councils, or parliaments amid a...

Exit poll shows Armenia's ruling party with wide...

Apr 2, 2017

Armenians have voted in the country's first parliamentary election since the ex-Soviet nation...

The Latest: Armenia opposition to demand snap...

Apr 23, 2018

Armenian opposition leader Nikol Pashinian says opposition activists want to meet with the acting...

Talks between Armenian opposition, acting PM...

Apr 27, 2018

The leader of protests that forced out Armenia's longtime head took his campaign to the country's...

Sign up now!

About Us

24-7 Reporters publishes up-to-the-minute news 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Our certified reporters are among the most experienced, well-trained and talented across the globe, covering issues resonating progressives in every corner of the world.

Contact us: sales[at]24-7reporters.com