wnol.info July 23 2018

European Commission publishes guiding principles on Ireland and Northern Ireland

July 23 2018, 05:51 | Irvin Gilbert

The Irish border between Londonderry and Donegal at Bridgend

The Irish border between Londonderry and Donegal at Bridgend

Barnier spoke as his negotiation team published a combative paper on the future of Northern Ireland and its border with the EU-member Republic of Ireland.

Last month, the UK Government published a position paper on its approach to Brexit issues affecting the island of Ireland.

He said he was anxious by what he saw in position papers published by Britain in recent weeks, and said Britain wanted "the EU to suspend the application of its laws, its customs union and its single market".

The EU has also said a political solution must be reached for Ireland before technical discussions can start on the future of the Irish Border post-Brexit.

It essentially puts on paper what has already been discussed publicly, including the European Union view that it's for the British to come up with solutions.

"If the EU wants to know who or what is coming from outside the customs union into the EU through Northern Ireland, that is up to the EU, Ministers say.

The Irish border will be your customs union frontier - you deal with it".

But, the European Union has also reminded Britain that negotiations can only move on when it rules "sufficient progress" has been made on issues of citizens' rights and the UK's financial obligations.

In a speech to the British-Irish Chamber of Commerce at its annual gala dinner in Dublin, Lord Mandelson said that it was time to "live up to and safeguard what was achieved 20 years ago".

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Guy Lougher of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law.com said: "The Commission's paper doesn't materially progress things".

"The EU is saying that the United Kingdom created the problem and therefore has some responsibility to finding a solution", he said.

The EU wants commitments around peace funding.

"We can not have a physical border on the island of Ireland again that creates barriers between communities", Coveney said.

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.

Brexit Secretary Mr Davis has insisted discussions with Brussels on border plans have been "good" but the EU's chief negotiator Mr Barnier, said "a lot more substantial work" needs to be done.

The Ulster Unionist MEP, Jim Nicholson, accused Mr Barnier and his colleagues of "sitting on their hands, which is a pathetic position to take given the issues at stake".

At the other end of the spectrum, he referred to the EU's free trade agreement with Canada which although "very ambitious", is far less complete than membership of the single market.

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