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Brexit: Angela Merkel warns ‘devil is in detail’ ahead of crunch meeting

German Chancellor Angela Merkel says there has been progress on Brexit ahead of a crunch summit but warned that the "devil is in the detail".

Brexit: Angela Merkel warns 'devil is in detail' ahead of crunch meeting
Chancellor Angela Merkel talks to Mark Rutte, Prime Minister of the Netherlands, at a meeting in The Hague. Photo: DPA

Merkel's cautious assessment on Wednesday came one week before EU leaders meet in Brussels for what might be the last chance to seal a deal on Britain's divorce from the European Union.

“There is progress,” Merkel said during a press conference with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte in The Hague, but “everything is solved only when everything is solved”.

“I hope for progress next week. We are pleased that there are intensive discussions, but the devil is in the detail,” the German leader added.

Merkel stressed that the other 27 EU countries were “very united” and that they “very, very” much trust the union's chief negotiator, Michel Barnier.

Rutte said meanwhile that he was “cautiously optimistic” about a deal at the summit.

“I think we can be very cautiously optimistic next week that we can take steps there,” Rutte said. “A lot depends on the conversations in the coming days.”

The details at stake are mainly over how to avoid the return of border controls between EU member Ireland and the British province of Northern Ireland, amid fears they might put a 1998 peace deal in the north at risk.

Barnier said Wednesday that a deal was “within reach” but that Britain had to accept some customs controls between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK, in order to protect the integrity of the EU's single market.

The EU fears that without such controls, goods coming from post-Brexit Britain not subject to the union's rules might slip into Ireland and then the rest of the bloc.

British Prime Minister Theresa May and the hardline Northern Irish unionist party that props up her government reject any encroachment on British sovereignty.

May is due in Brussels on October 17th for a last ditch appeal to EU leaders, while frantic negotiations go on round the clock in Brussels.

The EU says that without “decisive progress” by next week's summit they will not go ahead with a further meeting in November to finalise a Brexit deal.

That would see Britain crashing out of the EU in March 2019 with no customs or trade arrangements with the bloc, leading to potentially disastrous economic consequences.

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TRAVEL NEWS

Germany approves €9 public transport ticket for summer

It's official - people in Germany will get cheap public transport for three months this summer after the €9 ticket was approved.

Germany approves €9 public transport ticket for summer

As part of a host of energy relief measures to cushion the cost of living crisis, the German government is offering cheap public transport for the months of June, July and August. 

Monthly tickets will be available at a price of €9 (or €27 for all three months) and they will allow people to use all buses, trains and trams in local and regional transport throughout the country.

So even if people buy the ticket in Munich, they will also be able to use local and regional buses, trains and trams elsewhere in Germany, whether it’s Hamburg or Cologne. 

READ ALSO: How to explore Germany by train with the €9 ticket

The ticket will not be valid, however, on long-distance transport such as ICE trains or Flixbus.

The offer was put together by the coalition government – made of the Social Democrats, the Greens and the FDP.

The Bundestag voted for the initiative on Thursday, agreeing to give federal states a subsidy of €2.5 billion to fund the project. 

And on Friday, the Bundesrat – the upper house of parliament that represents the states – gave the green light to the ticket, paving the way for it to begin on June 1st. 

States had wanted an extra €1.5 billion funding boost to deal with lost revenue, however it would have been hugely controversial if they had blocked it.

READ ALSO: German states threaten to block the €9 ticket in the Bundesrat

During a debate on Thursday, federal Transport Minister Volker Wissing (FDP) said the €9 project was “already a success”.

“All of Germany is talking about local public transport,” he said, adding that it is also being viewed with interest abroad. 

READ ALSO: ‘Fantastic’: Your verdict on Germany’s €9 ticket

The Left party (Die Linke) voted in favour of the €9 ticket, but leader Bernd Riexinger said he thought the plan didn’t go far enough. “Three months is simply too little,” he said.

The opposition, however, slammed the move. Christian Democrat Michael Donth called it an “expensive experiment”.

Rail operator Deutsche Bahn will offer the ticket for sale as early as Monday. Local public transport providers across the country are also preparing their ticket machines for the initiative. It will also be available in travel centres.

People with subscriptions to local transport will automatically benefit from the offer. 

In some regions, such as Stuttgart and Freiburg, the ticket is already available for purchase.

READ ALSO: How to get a hold of the €9 ticket in Berlin

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