EU warns London’s plan could mean hard Irish border

EPA / LAURENT DUBRULE

A file picture shows a British Union Jack flag fluttering next to EU flags at the European Commission in Brussels.

EU warns London’s plan could mean hard Irish border


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In an attempt to bolster their official position, the European Commission commented on the UK’s proposal for a temporary customs arrangement with EU that would take effect as soon as Britain officially withdraws from the bloc in March 2019, suggesting that the proposal is “complex and unprecedented” for a temporary solution.

The UK’s proposal would see it remain temporarily aligned to the bloc’s customs regime beyond 2020 won’t prevent the re-emergence of checks along the land border between Northern Ireland and Ireland, which will remain a member of both the bloc and the eurozone.

The Commission has expressed its concerns, including its position that London’s proposal is overly complex and difficult to implement, through the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier. Both sides know that the overall agreement will have to contain a one-off solution that is part of the overall-Brexit agreement to the border issue before the UK officially ends its membership in the European Union.

All of the proposals put forth by the two sides have offered temporary solutions that meant to be a bridge until a long-term trade deal can be finalised.

The Commission dubbed the UK’s proposal “complex and unprecedented” for what is seen as a temporary arrangement, adding that it “does not cover the regulatory controls that could lead to a hard border.” Barnier’s team also raised concerns that the proposal may not be workable to avoid a hard border between the UK and EU member Ireland.

Under the initial schedule of talks, the EU-27 wanted the Irish border issue negotiations to be finalised and approved by the end of June,  before summer break. Those involved in the negotiations, however, now acknowledge that this is unlikely with so many questions and outstanding issues remaining unresolved.

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