Press Statement by Michel Barnier following the General Affairs Council (Article 50) meeting.

diverging uk-eu

The EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, made a press statement yesterday in which he highlighted so key developments regarding he position on the Ireland and Northern Ireland ‘backstop.’ For clarity the backstop will only apply if a better solution is not found in the context of the future relationship.

The key points made by Mr Barnier are:

  • The EU are ready to improve their proposal on the Irish boarder.
  • Clarity will be provided on which goods arriving into Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK would need to be checked.
  • Checks can take place away from the boarder.
  • The need to de-dramatise the checks.

The statement reads:

“Ladies and gentlemen,

Our proposal for the backstop on Ireland and Northern Ireland has been on the table since February.

It is an insurance policy to avoid a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland, whatever the future relationship will bring.

It reflects our agreement with the UK in December 2017, confirmed by Prime Minister Theresa May in her letter to President Tusk in March.

We are ready to improve this proposal.

Work on the EU side is ongoing:

  • We are clarifying which goods arriving into Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK would need to be checked and where, when and by whom these checks could be performed.
  • We can also clarify that most checks can take place away from the border, at the company premises or in the market.
  • We need to de-dramatise the checks that are needed and that are caused by the UK’s decision to leave the EU, its Single Market and customs union.

What we need in the Withdrawal Agreement is a legally operational backstop, which fully respects the territorial integrity of the UK.

This backstop will only apply unless and until a better solution is found, in the context of our future relationship.”

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