Published: Sun, September 10, 2017
Global Media | By Garry Long

United Kingdom should stay in CU and SM/EEA — EU Ireland paper

United Kingdom should stay in CU and SM/EEA — EU Ireland paper

The EU's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier says Britain's stance on issues relating to Ireland is worrisome and that a solution to the border issue will require a "unique" solution.

"The U.K. wants to use Ireland as a kind of test-case for the future EU-U.K. customs relations - this will not happen".

"This must be achieved in a way which ensures that Ireland's place within the internal market and Customs Union is unaffected". "It can not preconfigure the future relationship between the European Union and the UK".

Progress on the Irish border is one of the three items of separation that the European Union wants to see before it can sanction talks on a new post-Brexit relationship with Britain.

Mr Barnier's team also said Irish citizens living in the North must keep their rights as European Union citizens.

A spokesman for the Brexit department said: "The UK looks forward to further engagement through the negotiating dialogue we have established with the Commission".

The European Commission will publish its first formal paper later today on how it believes Britain should deal with the Irish issues in the Brexit negotiations.

The Foreign Secretary insisted it was not "beyond the wit of man" to find solutions for problems such as the future of the Irish border.

The four-page paper stated that the onus on coming up with solutions remains with the UK.

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"It [UK] has created this situation by leaving the single market and the customs union".

"I think the border is the hard issue if we leave the customs union, which the government at the moment seems keen on doing, then there are some very hard issues that are going to have to be resolved", he said.

The letter asserts that the signatories back the government's plan to negotiate an interim period after the formal exit date. Time is running out. "We will also highlight the consequences for Scotland if an orderly withdrawal and transition can not be agreed between the United Kingdom and the European Union".

"There are options available, particularly around the single market and customs union, which can resolve this major problem, if the United Kingdom government is minded to propose them".

As an exporting country, he said that it was vital to Ireland's interests to protect the single market.

In its position paper last month, Britain said the issue of how goods and people will move across the Irish frontier can not be separated from discussion about wider customs arrangements between Britain and the European Union.

"That is the Irish government's position", he said.

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