No UK deal until Ireland satisfied with Border solution - Barnier

EU’s chief negotiator wants significant progress on problem of Irish Border by June

Speaking in Dundalk during a two-day visit to Ireland and Northern Ireland, EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier has urged rapid agreement by June on the scope of any British alignment with the single market. Video: DFA

 

The European Union’s chief negotiator will today forcefully state there will be no withdrawal deal with the United Kingdom until agreement is reached on the Irish Border.

Michel Barnier will visit Dundalk today with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Tánaiste Simon Coveney and will deliver a keynote speech on the All-Island Civic Dialogue on Brexit.

The Irish Times understands Mr Barnier will clearly outline his belief that there should be significant progress on the Border issue by June and outlined at the next EU summit.

No withdrawal agreement will be signed until the Irish Government is satisfied with the solution reached on the Border, Mr Barnier will add.

There is agreement from all sides that there should be no hard border imposed on the island of Ireland. However, how this is achieved has yet to be worked out

The remarks are closely aligned to that of Mr Varadkar and Mr Coveney, who have insisted there must be “real and solid progress by June” on a solution to the Border question or there can be no overall Brexit deal.

Increase pressure

It is understood Mr Barnier will use his speech today to increase pressure on the British government to come forward with initiatives on ensuring there is no barrier between the Republic of Ireland and the North.

Senior Government figures here said the only proposals put forward by the British had been reheated ideas that contained abstract concepts but little detail.

There is agreement from all sides that there should be no hard border imposed on the island of Ireland. However, how this is achieved has yet to be worked out.

Mr Barnier will use his two-day programme to visit Derry, Newry and Dungannon but he will not meet with either political leaders in the North.

The focus of the visit is on meeting business stakeholders and cross-border groups to assess the impact of Brexit, Mr Barnier’s spokesman said.

Speaking yesterday, Mr Coveney said the Irish Government and the EU were united on the view that significant progress must be made on the Border by June.

He believed an agreement should be reached by the end of October and included in the withdrawal deal.

Mr Coveney stressed the Irish Government could not allow the negotiations to be delayed because it was politically difficult or sensitive in Britain.