Barnier slams UK's position on Irish border

Michel Barnier chief EU negotiator
Credit
Dario Pignatelli  Bloomberg

The EU stresses that the United Kingdom needs to find solutions that preserve the Good Friday peace agreement, avoid a hard border and do not jeopardise the functioning of the single market or the customs union.

Downing Street has approached some of Britain's biggest companies asking them to publicly support the government's approach to Brexit.

The crossbench peer, who ran the Foreign Office's diplomatic service 2002-2006, said there was not an "immediate risk" of violence but the possibility could not be "ignored".

As for the common travel area agreement, which predates both countries' EU membership, the European commission hints again that Ireland must be able to "honour its obligations as a European Union member state".

David Davis
David Davis Credit Will Oliver EPA

People and goods now move freely across the Irish border, but there are concerns that this can not be sustained after Brexit, though both sides say they want to avoid a "hard" border.

The letter states that signatories welcome the government's commitment to negotiating an interim period after the formal date of Brexit in 2019 to give firms time to adapt to the changing relationship with the EU.

"There was a clear assumption in the articles of the Good Friday Agreement that the United Kingdom and Ireland would remain in the EU".

The EU also published five position papers that outline the bloc's position on on Ireland and Northern Ireland, as well as customs, intellectual property, public procurement and use of data.

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He said 'in my view, the only way to resolve the border conundrum is for Northern Ireland to be within the same customs union and single market as the Republic...'

According to the EU's paper, procurement processes launched before Brexit in March 2019 should still to be governed by European Union public procurement law.

The EU's negotiation team put the ball in London's court on Thursday with a combative paper saying the solution for the Irish border problem was strictly Britain's responsibility.

Meanwhile, Mr Barnier rejected the UK's suggestions for a light-touch Irish border after withdrawal, suggesting they presented a threat to the integrity of the single market. Creativity and flexibility can not be at expense of integrity of the single market.

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"We were clear in our position paper that the nature of the border means that an agreed, reciprocal solution must be found.we welcome the Commission's continued recognition of the need for flexible and imaginative solutions", it said.

They pointed to failures to agree the nature of European Union citizens' rights, the border with Ireland and UK's final contribution to the bloc.

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