EU Economics

EU’s shock Northern Ireland GRAB: Brussels to demand special Brexit EXEMPTION

EUROPEAN Union bosses are staging a shock grab of Northern Ireland by outlining their vision for the country – urging that there must be no “hard border”.

Theresa May & IrelandGetty

European Union bosses want Theresa May to follow their lead on Ireland post Brexit

The European parliament has put forward a draft resolution demanding for Ireland to stay in the single market post Brexit.

EU chiefs will recommend that Northern Ireland also stays inside the customs union to ensure that there is no hard border across Ireland to protect peace.

And it has slammed the UK Government for “falling short” on its guarantees that there will be full compliance over the Good Friday Peace agreement.
The plans were outlined in a document by the European Commission, the EU’s executive, on how the Irish issue should be dealt with.

It explicitly states that the “onus to propose solutions” on Ireland falls on Britain.

The EU also asks for “flexible and imaginative solutions”.

Britain said last month that there should be no immigration checks along the 500km (300 mile) Irish frontier after Brexit.

Some 30,000 people make the crossing each day, and businesses from farming to brewing depend on easy movement of goods between north and south of Ireland.

Irish Prime Minister Leo VaradkarGetty

Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar has urged Britain to stay in the customs union

But Brussels has accused Britain of failing to explain how it would ensure that this could continue because it has stated its intention to leave the EU’s customs union.

Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar has urged Britain to stay in the customs union or in a similar arrangement for at least a post-Brexit transition phase to guarantee a smooth transition.

For some in Irish communities, the idea of a new, rigid frontier stirs painful memories of the British Army watchtowers and checkpoints that peppered the border during the decades of bloodshed.

European Union's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier Getty

European Union’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier has asked the UK to clarify its position

Ireland’s Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said: ”We cannot have a physical border on the island of Ireland again that creates barriers between communities, that will create tension, that will undermine the peace process that has taken 30 years to build. The problem is that the solutions to get us there so far haven’t been convincing.”
Jeremy Corbyn called for a referendum on the unification of Ireland because Brexit throws up an “enormous complication” about how to deal with the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic.

And when asked if voters should be able to cast their ballot on unifying Northern Ireland and the Republic he told the BBC last year “that’s up to the people of Northern Ireland to decide”.

The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier has pleaded with London to come up with “creative proposals”.

The comments from Mr Barnier highlight the gulf between the two sides on one of the trickiest issues thrown up by Brexit.

He said that he, along with many others want greater clarity on how Brexit will affect the currently seamless movement of people and goods between the Republic of Ireland, which is an EU member, and British-ruled Northern Ireland.

Mr Barnier said: “What I see in the UK’s paper on Ireland and Northern Ireland worries me.”

“The UK wants the EU to suspend the application of its laws, its customs union and its single market at what will be a new external border for the EU, and the UK wants to use Ireland as a kind of test case for the future EU-UK customs relations. This will not happen.”

The EU is also concerned that Britain could use the border between the two Irelands as a way to circumvent tariffs that could be imposed in a post-Brexit EU-UK trade deal.

Brussels is insisting that there must be progress on these issues before it presses ahead with future talks.

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