Barnier to Britain: Tackle border or I won’t sign deal

Posted By: April 30, 2018


Distributed by Irish National Caucus

John Monaghan. Irish News. Belfast. Monday, April 30, 2018

The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator has warned the UK government he will not sign any agreement that fails to tackle The Border issue.

Michel Barnier made the remarks ahead of a two-day trip to Ireland with visits to border regions including Newry and Derry.

The chief negotiator said there would need to be “substantial progress” on The Border by the next major meeting of EU leaders at a summit

in June.

Last week the UK’s Brexit secretary David Davis suggested the EU was trying to create an “artificial deadline” in June as a negotiating tactic.

Mr. Barnier will address the fourth plenary session of the Irish government’s all-island civic dialogue on Brexit in Dundalk, Co Louth, today.

The EU’s chief negotiator will cross the border to hear from business and lobby groups about the potential impact of Brexit.

Mr. Barnier will host a round-table discussion in Newry today and has a similar engagement in Derry tomorrow.

The former EU regional policy commissioner last visited Northern Ireland in 2000 but in his current role traveled to the border in Co Louth last May.

DUP MEP Diane Dodds has rejected “missing an opportunity” by not meeting Mr. Barnier during his visit this week.

Mr.s Dodds said she has already committed to meetings in London and could not meet him.

“I have many, many opportunities to speak to Michel Barnier and I never miss opportunities,” she said.

Last week Mrs. Dodds and Ulster Unionist MEP Jim Nicholson issued a joint statement welcoming Mr. Barnier’s visit but expressed disappointment that it was announced by Sinn Féin MP Elisha McCallion.

The Republic’s foreign minister and tánaiste Simon Coveney said he was looking forward to welcoming Mr. Barnier and updating attendees on the state of play in the negotiations.

“Mr. Barnier and his team have demonstrated a keen understanding of the unique circumstances of the island of Ireland, and they have Ireland’s full support. We look forward to continued close cooperation with the task force,” he said.