Irish Border Throws Unexpected Hurdle Into Brexit Talks

Irish Border Throws Unexpected Hurdle Into Brexit Talks

The EU leaked paper stops short of saying a hard border can only be avoided by the United Kingdom or Northern Ireland staying in the single market or customs union. It would like the whole remain in the customs union and single market, but failing that, wants to avoid on the island of Ireland "any regulatory divergence from the rules of the EU Internal Market and Customs Union".

But the EU chief negotiator said family reunification, the right to export social benefits, and the role of the European Court of Justice in guaranteeing these rights are still outstanding issues.

Britain's government said on Thursday it would use legislation to fix the time and date of the country's European Union (EU) exit, addressing concerns of Brexiteers who fear slow negotiations and opposition to the divorce could cause delays.

Before his meeting with the Brexit Secretary, Mr Barnier said the moment was approaching for a "real clarification" of Britain's position on issues like citizens' rights, the Irish border and the UK's financial settlement.

It explicitly reflects the Government's thinking that the avoidance of a hard border requires much more than the kinds of technical solutions favoured by the British government.

Speaking at a meeting of the British-Irish Council in Jersey, Mr Varadkar said his proposal would not mean the United Kingdom or Northern Ireland had to be members of the customs union and single market, but "it would mean continuing to apply the rules". However, this would mean a trade Border would be needed on goods moving between the North and Britain, something which London has also ruled out and which would anger the DUP, on whom the Conservatives rely to keep them in government.

Neither want Brexit to lead to the emergence of a hard border with the Republic of Ireland. Allowing Northern Ireland to stay in the customs union would mean putting a border between Northern Ireland and mainland Britain.

"Only sufficient progress - that is to say honest and real progress - on the three main key issues of these negotiations will enable the triggering of the second phase of our negotiation", he said.

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Now, there are most likely three broad possible outcomes of the negotiations.

Barnier said however that talks need to make "sincere and real" progress to move further.

"But we need to see flexibility, imagination and willingness to make progress on both sides if these negotiations are to succeed", he added.

Leo Varadkar was speaking at a British-Irish Council Summit in Jersey where he was asked about the revelation of the internal European Union memo which suggested that Northern Ireland would need to remain in both in order to avoid a hard border.

He said the Irish Government believed the best way to achieve that was to continue to apply the same sort of rules and regulations.

May added that the inclusion "in black and white" of the date Brexit will officially take place will ensure that the process can not be blocked.

His talks will continue today with Brexit Secretary David Davis.

Ambassadors from the EU-27 this week discussed internal deadlines in preparing for the December summit, and will take stock of the progress of Brexit talks on 20 November.