Economy

Barnier: 'No Spirit Of Revenge' In Brexit Negotiations

Barnier: 'No Spirit Of Revenge' In Brexit Negotiations

The EU's chief Brexit negotiator claimed Europe had no intention of questioning the UK's constitutional order but was seeking practical solutions to a complex problem.

"I think we have use the time from now to June to find this operational solution for Ireland", added Barnier, who said that until an agreement is reached, there will be no withdrawal agreement.

Mr Barnier also refuted accusations that the backstop is an attempt by the European Union to "reverse Brexit" and said it is only there because of the British government's red lines.

"The UK's decision to leave the single market and the customs union creates a risk that the hard border will return".

The backstop is the last resort in the event that the parties do not agree a solution that obviates all need for border controls or a more bespoke agreement that satisfies all sides.

Mr Barnier was greeted on his arrival by InterTradeIreland CEO Thomas Hunter McGowan.

"We need to agree rapidly by June on several new points, on the scope of alignment, customs and regulations".

This summer's meeting of European leaders in Brussels would be a "stepping stone" for the final summit in October, which is the deadline for reaching an agreement on withdrawal, he added.

DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson has accused Taoiseach Leo Varadkar of "poor manners" for visiting Northern Ireland today "outside of normal protocol". It is an active player, active, very active player, in the single market.

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He further clarified that people will be allowed to move freely between Ireland and the United Kingdom, as part of the agreed commitment to the Common Travel Area, but that the backstop applies only to the movement of goods. It is called the "single" market for a reason.

"The backstop we put in the draft treaty, is not there to change the United Kingdom red lines, it is there because of the United Kingdom red lines... on the customs union and single market", said Barnier.

"Clear and operational solution for Ireland" needs to be included in the Brexit deal, he said, adding: "Until we reach this agreement, there is a risk".

But a version published by the European Union 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 to".

"My door is open".

Foster's criticisms come in response to Barnier's suggestions back in February that the question over a border on the island of Ireland, which remains unresolved, could be solved by Northern Ireland remaining in the customs union after Brexit.

On Tuesday he will visit the other, north-western end of the porous 310-mile border at Londonderry.

It comes after the DUP leader said Michel Barnier did not understand the dispute and was not an "honest broker".


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