European Union chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier arrives for a meeting of EU General Affairs ministers, Article 50, at the European Convention Center in Luxembourg, Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2019. European Union chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier is in Luxembourg on Tuesday to brief ministers on the state of play for Brexit. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)

The Latest: Merkel likens Brexit talks to 'squaring circle'

October 15, 2019 - 5:14 am

LUXEMBOURG (AP) — The Latest on Brexit (all times local):

11:10 a.m.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is likening the effort to break the Brexit deadlock to "squaring the circle," but is vowing to work until the last moment to secure an orderly British withdrawal from the European Union.

Merkel pointed to the difficulties of reconciling the U.K.'s desire to leave the EU customs union with the need to maintain an open border between Ireland and Northern Ireland.

In a speech to German machinery makers, she said that "what they are trying to negotiate is something like squaring the circle, and it is very, very complicated."

She added that "we will work until the last minute for an orderly British withdrawal" but insisted that the EU is also prepared if no deal is reached.

Merkel said "one thing is clear already now." Britain, she said, will develop into "another competitor on Europe's doorstep and that will require the European Union even more strongly to be competitive and to take geopolitical responsibility."

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8:45 a.m.

The European Union's Brexit negotiator says a divorce deal with the United Kingdom is still possible this week but that the British government needs to come forward with a legal text.

Michel Barnier said ahead of a meeting with EU foreign ministers that the main challenge now is to turn British proposals on the complex issue of the border on the island of Ireland into something binding.

Barnier said it is "high time to turn good intentions into a legal text."

EU leaders are meeting for a two-day summit in Brussels from Thursday. Brexit will top the agenda as the Oct. 31 Brexit deadline looms.

"Even if an agreement will be difficult — more and more difficult, we think — it is still possible this week," Barnier said.

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Follow AP's full coverage of Brexit and British politics at https://www.apnews.com/Brexit

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