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Simon Coveney tells Euronews the UK 'needs to move to facilitate deal'

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Simon Coveney tells Euronews the UK 'needs to move to facilitate deal'
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Ireland's deputy prime minister has said the UK "will need to move to facilitate an agreement" on Brexit, which, he adds, would be met by a "very generous response".

Speaking to Euronews amid a new round of UK-EU negotiations underway on Monday, Simon Coveney said he believed there was "an understanding as to what that deal could look like", but that there was "still a big gap between the two sides".

He added that the EU was also prepared to take longer than its scheduled meetings to smooth out the legalese.

"The most important thing is that we can get the right outcome here, and if that takes a little bit longer, then so be it," he said.

"There is an understanding as to what a deal can look like by those involved in negotiation.

"But actually getting the technical language and legal language right that stands up to being an international treaty is a real challenge."

When asked whether he believed the UK understood the EU's concerns regarding the customs union and the single market in Ireland, he said: "Well, I think they have to understand it."

"There's no way that [Chief EU negotiator] Michel Barnier and his taskforce will sign off on a deal unless it accommodates, fully, the concerns of the EU in terms of protecting the integrity of both the EU single market and customs union in the context of any solution on the island of Ireland."

Coveney also added that it was the UK's responsibility to offer an alternative arrangement to the Irish backstop — which UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson wants to scrap.

He said: "It is a British prime minister who has insisted on trying to remove the backstop from the withdrawal agreement.

"And we've always said that if you want to remove something, you've got to replace it with something else that does the same job — which is surely not an unreasonable request."

His comments came amid a crucial week in the Brexit process that is underway across Belgium and Luxembourg.

As negotiators from the UK and the EU return to the table in Brussels to try and secure a revised withdrawal agreement ahead of the October 31 deadline, the EU Council and national leaders are also preparing for a two-day summit starting Thursday.

READ MORE: Brexit timeline - What to look out for in a crucial week

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