EU Legislation

‘Play by OUR rules’ Barnier says Ireland solutions must be ‘fully compatible’ with EU law

MICHEL Barnier today insisted that any solutions Britain puts forward to solve the Northern Ireland issue after Brexit must be “fully compatible” with law laid down by euro judges.

The EU’s chief negotiator said that “substantial work” needs to be done before he can recommend to the EU27 leaders that “sufficient progress” has been made on the key issue of Irish relations beyond Brexit.Under the bloc’s strategy for the talks all 27 member states have to agree that the UK has met enough of their negotiating demands before discussions on a new trading relationship can be triggered.

EU chief negotiator Michel BarnierGETTY

EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier

The Frenchman made the remarks following a meeting with the Irish foreign affairs and trade minister Simon Coveney, who stressed that his country supports the EU’s phased negotiating approach despite its close trading ties with the UK.

Mr Barnier said: “We discussed the third round of Brexit negotiations and in particular how to take forward the political dialogue in Ireland and Northern Ireland.
“In this negotiation Ireland’s interest will be our interest and vice-versa. Ireland’s concerns are the Union’s concerns and all EU member states and EU institutions are fully united in this regard.”At the same time we know that every solution we will look at will have to be fully compatibly with Union law and with the Single Market.”

He added: “The decision to leave was the UK’s decision, not the EU’s or Ireland’s, and we respect that decision. I said last week that while our discussions were fruitful, it’s clear that a lot more substantial work needs to be done, in particular we will need to continue discussions in all the areas of North-South cooperation.”

Theresa May has repeatedly promised to take Britain outside of the “direct jurisdiction” of the European Court of Justice (ECJ), and British officials feel Mr Barnier’s “inflexible” and highly legalistic approach to the talks is scuppering the chances of reaching a deal.In the UK’s position paper on future Ireland relations minister suggested keeping an open border through a mixture of technology and creating a new customs area mimicking the EU’s Customs Union.

In his remarks, Mr Coveney echoed comments made by the previous Taioseach, Enda Kenny, that his country was firmly on the EU’s side in the talks but also talked up its “unique” connection to the UK.

He said: “We are very thankful of the priority that has been given to Irish issues in the context of Britain’s decision to leave the EU. Ireland is in a uniquely vulnerable position as a small country that has an interwoven relationship with the UK from a trade perspective, from a historic perspective, from a political perspective.

“The decision by the UK to leave the EU has potentially an extraordinarily negative impact on Ireland and on the island of Ireland and so that is why in the first phase of negotiations Ireland is one of the big three issues that there needs to be substantial progress on before we can move onto the broader issues of trade and transition and future relationships.”

The Frenchman insisted his remarks had been misinterpreted and taken out of context from a private meeting in Ialy, writing: “I said: Brexit = occasion to explain single market benefits in all countries, incl my own. We do not want to  ‘educate’ or ‘teach lessons’.

Earlier today Mr Coveney met with the EU Parliament’s rapporteur on Brexit, former Belgian prime minister Guy Verhofstadt, to discuss MEPs’ stance on the Irish issue.

After the meeting Mr Verhofstadt tweeted a picture of the pare, saying: “Productive discussion today with Simon Coveney. The issues specific to Ireland are a priority for the EU27 in the Brexit negotiations.”

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The Irish government, always on someone else’s side .
Never Britains.

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