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Friday 24 November 2017

UK must suggest 'unique' Border solution, says EU

EU negotiator Michel Barnier wants to avoid a hard Border
EU negotiator Michel Barnier wants to avoid a hard Border

Europe has called for a "unique" Border solution in the wake of Brexit.

In a four-page document, negotiators in Brussels have warned that it is more than just a customs problem.

Michel Barnier's team said they were not offering solutions on how cross-Border trade and travel will be protected.

They said the onus was on the UK to come up with ideas to avoid a hard Border.

The long-awaited paper said: "It is the responsibility of the United Kingdom to ensure that its approach to the challenges of the Irish Border... takes into account and protects the very specific and interwoven political, economic, security, societal and agricultural context and frameworks on the island of Ireland.

Influence

"These challenges will require a unique solution, which cannot serve to preconfigure solutions in the context of the wider discussions on the future relationship between the European Union and the United Kingdom."

Reports here suggested the document was drawn up with deep influence from Dublin.

The Brussels document warned that a thorough understanding of the issues beyond customs rules is needed to move negotiations forward.

The paper called for the negotiations to secure a political commitment to protect the Good Friday Agreement and the gains of the peace process.

"Flexible and imaginative solutions will be required to avoid a hard Border, including any physical border infrastructure," the paper states.

"This must be achieved in a way which ensures that Ireland's place within the internal market and Customs Union is unaffected."

The Government said: "Our priorities remain protecting the Good Friday Agreement and the peace process, including by avoiding a hard Border, and maintaining the Common Travel Area."

It called on the UK to make "substantive commitments and workable solutions".

"The principles reflected in this paper must underpin any arrangements and solutions to be proposed, developed and agreed in future negotiations," the Government said.

The Brussels paper warned that the UK and Europe will have to assess how cross-Border cooperation could be impacted if and when EU law ceases to apply in the North.

Mr Barnier's team also said Irish citizens living in the North must keep their rights as EU citizens.

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