Brussels warns London that there is no “transition period” without the “backstop agreement”

PAUL McERLANE

The clock at Stormont Castle shows 4pm, Belfast, Northern Ireland 29 June 2017.

Brussels warns London that there is no “transition period” without the “backstop agreement”


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Brussels insists that time is running out for London to reach a Brexit deal, calling into question even the transition agreement; London is apparently preparing for “no deal.”

Just as the European Commission’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier says that the UK’s “combined customs” area has unworkable dimensions, the European Parliament stepped in on Friday to make clear that the “time is ticking” in Ireland.

Barnier told the UK’s Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab that the plan to collect customs duties for the EU is unacceptable; the idea of collecting taxes for the EU is integral to the idea that the UK and the EU can maintain a “combined” customs territory, in which the UK will voluntarily adhere to norms and standards but will not be a member of the Customs Union.

The British government wants to avoid a hard border in Northern Ireland and European Court of Justice jurisdiction.

While the British government is stepping up visible preparations for a “no deal” scenario, the European Parliament’s Brexit Steering Group s underscored on Friday that the UK has signed onto a “backstop deal” for Ireland.

Without a “backstop,” there will be no transition deal between March and December 2019, the BSG group has said.

The position of the former Brexit Secretary David Davies, Eurosceptic MP Jacob Rees-Mogg and, more recently, Theresa May is that no British government is willing to see a different customs regime for Northern Ireland. Jacob Rees-Mogg also insists that it is not incumbent on the UK to find a resolution for Northern Ireland and the UK will allow the borders to be open, forcing the Republic to erect a hard border.

In December 2017, Theresa May signed an agreement that created a “backstop” for Northern Ireland, ensuring there would be no border on the island. She has since undermined her position, talking about a “hard border.”

“Any suggestion that the UK government will renege on the commitments it has already made only risk to undermine trust and sabotage negotiations,” the European Parliaments BSG said on Friday.

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