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Watch: Macron says he is 'confident' backstop solution can be found in 30 days

Watch: Macron says he is 'confident' backstop solution can be found in 30 days
Copyright REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer/File Photo
Copyright REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer/File Photo
By Euronews with AFP & Reuters
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French President Emmanuel Macron and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson talk during Johnson's first official visit to France.

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French President Emmanuel Macron agreed with Angela Merkel's determination that a potential backstop solution could be found within the next 30 days.

The next month will need to be used wisely to "find solutions that can respond to areas of contention without changing the deep agreements of the Withdrawal Agreement," Macron said at a press conference with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

"I am also, like Chancellor Merkel, confident that with our collective intelligence and will to build should allow us to find an intelligent solution within thirty days, " Macron said.

"I want to be very clear: in the month ahead, we will not find a new withdrawal agreement that deviates far from the original."

But Macron insisted that any deal would need to maintain the stability of Ireland and the integrity of the EU's single market.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that he thought it was possible to have both without the backstop, stating that he understood Macron's "desire to protect the integrity of the single market".

"Under no circumstances will the UK government be instituting checks or controls at that border," Johnson said.

Watch the two leaders' press conference in the video player above.

'Not an option'

On Wednesday, Macron said that Johnson would need to clarify his position on Brexit because his demands to renegotiate the withdrawal deal are "not an option that exists".

Macron said a "hard Brexit" in which the UK exited the EU without a deal by October 31 would be of Britain's own making, but that France was prepared for this scenario.

He added that the cost of a no-deal Brexit would not be mitigated by a deal with Washington.

"Can the cost for Britain of a hard Brexit, because Britain will be the main victim, be offset by the United States of America? No. And even if it were a strategic choice it would be at the cost of a historic vassalisation of Britain," he said.

The French president spoke to reporters from the Association de la Presse Présidentielle (Presidential Press Association) in Paris as Angela Merkel held a press conference with Johnson in Berlin.

Merkel said there were "possibilities" for a compromise on the backstop issue and suggested that they work to find a solution within the next 30 days.

Macron, meanwhile, stated that Europe would not choose between the single market and the Good Friday Agreement.

"We won't jeopardise peace in Ireland, that would be one of the consequences of dropping the so-called backstop," he said.

Macron also remarked: "We shall not accept that Europe becomes a sieve, that there shall be no more checks at the border ... just because Mr Johnson doesn't like [the backstop]".

European Council President Donald Tusk had tweeted earlier in the week that Britain hadn't offered "realistic alternatives" to the backstop. Johnson sent a letter to Tusk on Monday in which he repeated calls for the backstop to be removed from the withdrawal agreement.

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Read more about the Irish backstop here.

Read more:

'Operation Yellowhammer': Leaked UK document warns of no-deal Brexit chaos

No-deal Brexit: everything you need to know

Brexit Guide: where are we now?

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