Tuesday, 22 May, 2018

EU Brexit negotiator urges United Kingdom on Irish border solution

Tánaiste 'Substantial progress' on Brexit border issue is needed by June summit SIPA USA PA Images
| 01 May, 2018, 13:17

Barnier, on his second visit to the Border since Brexit, said this was exactly why he had come to visit both sides of the Border: to find "technical and practical solutions to assure safety controls" that protect the EU's single market and, he suggested, the UK's internal market too. Britain and the bloc agree there must be no customs posts or other infrastructure along the now all-but-invisible 310-mile (500-kilometer) border.

"Backstop is needed in order to respect the integrity of the EU single market and the EU customs union", he said, adding that goods entering Northern Ireland must comply with the rules of the single market and the customs union code.

"There is no question of Ireland or the European Union being interested in a land grab in Northern Ireland, that's not our position at all", he said.

"I don't think he does understand the wider unionist culture of Northern Ireland".

Michel Barnier will meet politicians, businesspeople and cross-border groups.

Northern Ireland will be the UK's only land frontier with the European Union after its leaves the bloc in March 2019.


Varadkar agreed with Barnier, warning that Britain's "approach to negotiations will need to change in some way" if there is to be agreement over the issue reached.

Mr Barnier said he was not ready to engage in "polemics" with Mrs Foster.

TUV leader Jim Allister said the visit shows that "the pattern of seeking to lord it over us is clear".

He inadvertently had a dig at Davis when he took a question from a Northern Irish journalist about Davis believing the backstop wasn't necessary. She told the BBC: "There are two jurisdictions on the island of Ireland, we are part of the United Kingdom, they have to respect the constitutional reality and in terms of that they have to understand that we want to remain part of the United kingdom not just from a constitutional or political point of view, but from an economic one as well".

The Tánaiste pointed to the impossible scenario where the United Kingdom believes it can stay outside the customs union and single market and expect the EU and Ireland to evade long-established rules of the single market - most of which Britain was instrumental in creating - in order to satisfy misguided Brexiteers' fantasies. "Therefore, his proposal of us being in an all-Ireland regulatory scenario with a border down the Irish Sea simply does not work".

This week marks his third visit to Ireland and Irish foreign affairs minister Simon Coveney described was a friend of the country.

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