Updated Mar 23, 2018

Brexit deadline adds pressure to U.K.–EU talks

Theresa May, Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron following a meeting at the European Union leaders summit in Brussels, on March 22, 2018. Photo: Ludovic Marin/AFP via Getty Images

European leaders on Friday made enough progress in negotiations about the U.K.’s long-term relationship with the EU to move forward in the Brexit process.

Yes, but: That doesn’t mean the U.K. is set for a smooth withdrawal next spring. To get this far, the U.K. has had to make big concessions that have upset pro-Brexiteers, namely on the rights of EU citizens coming to Britain, the rights of U.K. fishing fleets in U.K. waters and the role of the European Court of Justice. The U.K. has also ceded ground on the transitional arrangements for the 20 months after Brexit.

More important, recent talks have done nothing to break the deadlock over the future of the U.K.’s only land border with the rest of the EU, in Ireland. All parties say they want to keep the open border, which has been crucial to the 20-year peace in Northern Ireland since the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.

But to avoid a hard border, with border posts and passport and customs checks, either Northern Ireland or the whole of the U.K. would have to remain in the EU’s Customs Union. The U.K., however, has ruled out both solutions, in a standoff that could capsize negotiations.

And the border is just one of myriad issues — spanning trade, financial regulations, worker restrictions and the European Court of Justice's jurisdiction — that have yet to be addressed. To buy time, Prime Minister May could ask to extend the withdrawal date, but she would face a huge revolt from her party. She’s more likely to propose a fudged deal, in which issues such as the Irish border are left to be resolved during the post-Brexit transition.

The bottom line: It’s unlikely that the U.K. and European Parliaments, as well as those of the 27 remaining EU member states, will continue to accept May’s procrastination. Negotiations have progressed thus far by kicking key issues down the road, but the road is fast running out.

Peter Kellner is a visiting scholar at Carnegie Europe.

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World coronavirus updates: Spain's health care system overloaded

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens and confirmed plus presumptive cases from the CDC

Two planes with protective equipment arrived to restock Spain’s overloaded public health system on Wednesday as confirmed cases surpassed 100,000 and the nation saw its biggest death toll so far, Reuters reports.

The big picture: COVID-19 cases surged past 900,000 and the global death toll surpassed 45,000 early Wednesday, per Johns Hopkins data. Italy has reported more than 12,000 deaths.

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 9 p.m. ET: 932,605 — Total deaths: 46,809 — Total recoveries: 193,177Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 9 p.m. ET: 213,372 — Total deaths: 4,757 — Total recoveries: 8,474Map.
  3. Business updates: Small businesses are bearing the brunt of the coronavirus job crisis.
  4. World update: Spain’s confirmed cases surpassed 100,000, and the nation saw its biggest daily death toll so far. More than 500 people were reported dead within the last 24 hours in the U.K., per Johns Hopkins.
  5. State updates: Florida and Pennsylvania are the latest states to issue stay-at-home orders — Michigan has more than 9,000 confirmed cases, an increase of 1,200 and 78 new deaths in 24 hours.
  6. Stock market updates: Stocks closed more than 4% lower on Wednesday, continuing a volatile stretch for the stock market amid the coronavirus outbreak.
  7. 1 future thing: Shifts to telemedicine, at-home diagnostics, and drone delivery are all likely lasting consequences from this pandemic.
  8. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  9. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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U.S. coronavirus updates: Confirmed cases surpass 200,000

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Positive cases of the novel coronavirus passed 213,000 on Wednesday — nearly twice as many as Italy, per Johns Hopkins — as more state governors issued stay-at-home orders for Americans to curb infection.

The state of play: Trump administration officials are anonymously sounding the alarm that America's emergency stockpile of personal protective equipment is running dangerously low, the Washington Post reports.

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