EU tells Britain to "face up to hard facts" on Brexit

The European Union executive said on Friday it will seek talks with the United States over President Donald Trump's steel and aluminum tariffs but stands ready to take Washington to the World Trade Organisation if necessary.

But he was heckled by UKIP's David Coburn, who shouted: "It is a British issue".

Britain has so far failed to bring forward "specific and realistic" alternative proposals to keep the Irish border open without activating the EU's "backstop" option, he said.

European Parliament Coordinator for Brexit Guy Verhofstadt added: "In order to break the deadlock we now face, I believe it is important that the UK Government now seriously considers engaging with the European Parliament's proposal for an association agreement, as catered for by Article 217 of the EU Treaty".

"After Brexit there is a big discontinuity in all the trade and services, but we still have a large market and it's supposed to be an interesting opportunity for all the financial institutions", Katainen said.

The European Union would make the point before EU leaders meet at a summit on March 22-23 that the EU was a long-standing and trusted security partner of the United States and thus not a threat to national security and that the Pentagon only needed 3 percent of US annual steel production to serve its needs.

"This resolution now before the European Parliament is hugely significant as is goes further in recognising that a special solution is needed for the North as a result of Brexit", she said. "So we will be firm on this".

Responding to Mr Tusk's remarks, DUP MEP Diane Dodds said his "Ireland first" plan could actually harm Irish businesses.

"Of the £26 billion worth of sales by Northern Ireland firms that are outside of the region, 56 per cent go to Great Britain", she explained. That's pushed the European Union to consider a traditional free trade association as the best option available to both sides.

British officials deny this ultimatum amounted to talks being frozen at the issue until it can be resolved, but the schedule for this week's discussions show that they will nearly exclusively focus on the same "separation" issues that were the subject of the December agreement, including the Irish border - with only one line in the schedule designated for transition talks.

"At the same time, being outside the Customs Union and the Single Market will inevitably lead to frictions".

Jim Nicholson said: "I would say to Mr Tusk, you are playing a high-stakes game with the United Kingdom, and with Northern Ireland in particular".

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)

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