British govt sticking by proposals for Irish border

The British government has insisted it is sticking by its proposals for keeping the Irish border open after Brexit, amid reports that they have been rejected by Brussels.

A Downing Street spokesman said the UK does not recognise claims that the plans were subjected to a "systematic and forensic annihilation" by EU officials at a meeting this week with Britain's lead negotiator Olly Robbins - writes rte.ie

The Daily Telegraph quoted unnamed EU diplomatic sources as saying that the Brussels officials delivered "a detailed and forensic rebuttal", making clear that "none of the UK customs options will work - none of them".

It came as Britain's former ambassador to the EU, Ivan Rogers, said UK hopes of finding a technological solution to the border issue were regarded as "a fantasy island unicorn model" in European capitals.

However Downing Street has said the UK will continue to negotiate on the basis of the two proposals set out in a position paper last summer, which envisage either a close economic relationship which would make customs checks unnecessary or technological solutions to render them near-frictionless.

Tánaiste Simon Coveney said that the Daily Telegraph story was a leak from one of the EU negotiators.

Speaking to RTÉ News, Mr Coveney said that the Government’s position on the issue has not changed and is "rock solid".

"We are still looking for the same things we were looking for six, eight, 12 months ago which is to protect the Good Friday Agreement, to ensure North/South co-operation works and no physical border infrastructure," he said.

The Downing Street spokesman said: "We are confident that in the coming months, if all sides work together productively, we can achieve a solution to the Ireland/Northern Ireland border that works for everyone involved."

He said the Prime Minister was "not aware" of suggestions that chief EU negotiator Michel Barnier had put trade talks on hold while the Irish issue took centre stage.

A joint report on the UK's withdrawal agreed in December by Mrs May and European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker included both British proposals, along with a third "backstop" option which would keep Northern Ireland in the Customs Union.

However a version published by the EU in February and agreed by the EU27 last month contained only the "backstop", effectively drawing a customs border down the Irish Sea, which a furious Mrs May said "no British prime minister could ever agree".

Mr Barnier said on Friday that substantial parts of the withdrawal deal - including a solution for the Irish border - remain to be agreed by the autumn.

He told France2 TV: "I say as the Union's negotiator that there are still difficulties, still a risk of failure.

"On 25% of the text, we don't have agreement. If there is no agreement, there is no orderly withdrawal, there is a disorderly withdrawal and there is no transition."

Restating his position that the integrity of the single market and the freedom of movement are "non-negotiable", Mr Barnier switched from French to English when asked if the UK could obtain a "single market a la carte" deal, replying: "No way."

The developments put pressure on Mrs May ahead over a vote in the House of Commons next week on keeping the UK in the European Customs Union, just days after she was defeated on the issue in the Lords.

If the UK position is rejected by Brussels, the British government could be faced with a choice between remaining in the Customs Union or accepting a hard border in Ireland.

On Wednesday, European Council president Donald Tusk warned that there will be "no withdrawal agreement and no transition" without a solution on Ireland.

According to the Telegraph, Mr Robbins was also warned that Brussels needs "full compliance" with EU rules on goods and agricultural products in the whole of the UK - not just Northern Ireland - if customs barriers are to be avoided.

A British government spokesman said: "We have been clear that we will protect Northern Ireland's place in the UK internal market.

"That commitment was set out in December's Joint Report which also includes our guarantee of avoiding a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland.

"We are continuing an intensive work programme to engage on all the scenarios set out in the Joint Report."

Read more news of Dublin on our site.

rte.ie
IRELAND BREXIT BORDER EUROPEAN UNION MICHEL BARNIER
If you notice an error, highlight the text you want and press Ctrl + Enter to report it to the editor
3 views in september
I recommend
No recommendations yet

Comments

Comments are designed to communicate and discuss the features of an enterprise or event, as well as to find out the interesting questions on it.

Society
A number of Ulster Bank customers are currently being impacted by an issue with the bank’s Anytime and Mobile Banking services. In a statement Ulster Bank said that it was aware that there are some issues on its Anytime and Mobile Banking services, and that it is working to fix them. The bank advised customers that its telephone banking and ATM services have not been impacted by the problem. "We are aware that customers are currently experiencing issues lo...
Society
TWO national school teachers and an accountant have been spared jail for their part in a violent brawl in a well-known Dublin pub. Teachers Michael Davitt and Seamus O Cearra, as well as accountant Conor Shannon all walked free from court today after admitting violent disorder charges in the 10-man melee. A fourth accused, warehouse manager and soccer team captain Stephen Cantwell also avoided a prison sentence while a fifth, electrician David McSweeney wa...
Incidents
Two people have been hospitalised with serious injuries and a man arrested on suspicion of drink-driving following a collision in Co Wexford. The two-car crash happened at The Leap in Clonroche at around 8.30pm yesterday evening. A man and woman, both in their 50s, were taken by ambulance to Wexford General Hospital. The driver of the second car, a man in his 50s, was arrested at the scene on suspicion of drink-driving. He has since been released from cust...
Society
Long-standing plans to deliver hundreds of new homes on the site of the former Player Wills cigarette factory on Dublin's South Circular Road have come up against yet another obstacle. Documents lodged in the High Court showed the site's Nama-appointed receivers, Paul McCann and Stephen Tennant of Grant Thornton, are locked in legal proceedings in an effort to remove a company operating a salvage business from the site. The case relating to the tenancy rig...
Society
Health Minister Simon Harris has been told his decision on whether to grant access to a revolutionary new drug for children with a rare degenerative condition is one of life or death. Families, friends, supporters and sufferers of spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) gathered outside the Dail yesterday to call for access to the drug Spinraza. The only drug ever manufactured to treat SMA, a degenerative neuromuscular disorder, it is licensed, available and changin...
Society
Storm damage at the ploughing championships has forced organisers to cancel the second day of the event. More than 100,000 people had been scheduled to attend Ireland's largest annual outdoor event outside Tullamore, Co Offaly. However, two delayed openings were not enough to save the National Ploughing Association (NPA) event, after tents were badly damaged by the gusting winds. NPA assistant managing director Anna Marie McHugh said the organisers will no...
Society
A dream holiday to Ireland turned to tragedy for a tourist who died after her caravan was blown into the sea as Storm Ali battered the country. The woman, named locally as Elvira Ferraii from Switzerland, had arrived in the Clifden area of Galway the day before the tragic incident. She rented a caravan and was staying at the Clifden Eco Beach camping and caravan site in the Claddaghduff area, along the Atlantic coastline. At around 7.45am yesterday the car...
Society
Teachers Michael Davitt and Seamus O Cearra and accountant Conor Shannon all walked free from court yesterday after admitting violent disorder charges over the 10-man melee. A fourth accused, warehouse manager Stephen Cantwell, also avoided a prison term while a fifth, electrician David McSweeney, was jailed for six months. Passing sentence, Judge Brian O'Shea said the teachers were "ambassadors for their schools" whenever they went out and they had "let t...
Society
ESB Networks says 39,000 homes, farms and businesses are still without power this morning after StormAli crossed the country yesterday. Repair crews workedthrough the night, but 1,600 individual faults remain on the network. It says it hopes to restore power to everyone affected today. ESB Networks Operations Manager Derek Hynes said most repairs are in the Cavan/Longford, Monaghan and Mayo areas. He saidcrews need to get to 1,600 locations today andwarned...