Barnier: Up to Britain to provide border solutions

Posted By: November 21, 2017


Distributed by Irish National Caucus

Staff Reporter. Irish News. Belfast. Tuesday, November 21, 2017

BRITAIN must offer solutions on how to settle the Irish border issue, the EU’s top Brexit negotiator has said.

Michel Barnier told a conference yesterday that the British government would need to provide clear proposals soon if they were to find a way for the UK to leave the EU but still have a transparent, open border with Ireland.

And he said it was not up to the European Union to offer compromises.

Mr. Barnier added, “those who wanted Brexit must offer solutions”.

He said the EU and UK were close to agreement on measures to ensure the continuation of the Good Friday Agreement and the Common Travel Area.

But he said it remained “unclear” what rules would apply in Northern Ireland after Brexit.

He dismissed arguments that The North’s regulatory framework must match that in Britain to preserve the integrity of the UK single market, pointing out that Northern Ireland already has “specific rules in many areas that are different to the rest of the UK.”

“I expect the UK, as co-guarantor of the Good Friday Agreement, to come forward with proposals,” he said.

“The island of Ireland is now faced with many challenges. Those who wanted Brexit must offer solutions.”

Meanwhile, The North can be given special status in the UK’s Brexit deal, an independent legal analysis commissioned by MEPs has

The legal opinion, written by lawyers from the London-based Doughty Street Chambers, proposes three ways in which it says special status could be legally secured for the north as the UK continues negotiations on leaving the European Union.

The document was commissioned by a cross-party coalition of left-wing MEPs and launched by Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson at an event in Stormont.

The first model suggested would be for the UK to stay in the single market and the customs union, while the rest of the UK would suspend some customs regulations but Northern Ireland would retain them.

The second suggests The North could stay in the single market and customs union while the rest of the UK leaves them.

The third proposal, modeled on the fall of the Berlin wall and subsequent reunification of Germany, suggests The North would remain in the EU pending a border poll on a united Ireland.

Speaking at the launch, report author Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC said: “It is astonishing so few proposals have been put on the table about this. A key part of our report is to look at the legal and policy vacuum here, which is concerning.”

The north has been without a full voice at Brexit negotiations due to the collapse of power-sharing at Stormont earlier this year.

The DUP and Sinn Féin will hold separate talks with Prime Minister Theresa May at Downing Street today about the ongoing political crisis and Brexit.

DUP leader Arlene Foster said The North could not be used as a bargaining chip in Brexit negotiations.

“Northern Ireland will exit the EU on the same terms as the rest of the United Kingdom,” she said adding that “we will not countenance a border in the Irish Sea.”

On the powersharing impasse, she suggested The North was edging toward a return to direct rule unless a deal with Sinn Féin could be reached.

“I want to see local ministers making decisions about Northern Ireland but we cannot continue without a ministerial-led government,” she said.