Brexit Bites, 4 December 2017

Dec 04, 2017

Today the UK Prime Minister Theresa May meets European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker in Brussels where she is likely to present the UK’s proposals on the divorce bill, citizens’ rights and the border on the island of Ireland. While there are unconfirmed reports that some form of proposal has been put forward, it seems that the Irish border is proving to be a real sticking point with Ireland seeking written assurances from the UK that a hard border will be avoided.  The EU says it is united in this position and the “Irish request is the EU’s request”.

EU wants what Ireland wants

European Council President, Donald Tusk, has said that if the UK’s proposals for the border on the island of Ireland do not meet Ireland’s requirements, then the proposals will also not meet the requirements of the EU: 

"Let me say very clearly: If the UK offer is unacceptable for Ireland, it will also be unacceptable for the EU. I realise that for some British politicians this may be hard to understand," he said.

These comments came after a meeting between Mr Tusk and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar which took place in Dublin last Friday to discuss strategy on the Irish border ahead of the EU Summit which takes place next week on 14 and 15 December.  

Like Ireland, the EU is committed to preventing a hard border on the island of Ireland.  So far the UK has not appeared to put forward acceptable proposals on how the border would work post Brexit if Northern Ireland is outside the Single Market and Customs Union. 

Mr Tusk said that the EU stands united on this matter. "The EU is fully behind you and your request that there should be no hard border on the island of Ireland after Brexit," he said.

Ireland has said that it wants, in writing, a guarantee that the border will remain free flowing and that cross-border cooperation which is part of the Good Friday Agreement is maintained. It is reported that talks intensified on the matter over the past few days with Ireland now being viewed as the most difficult of the three issues.  

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney was quoted this morning as saying “We’re not quite where we need to be”.  However there are emerging reports on RTE this afternoon that the UK will agree that there will be no divergence on EU single market and customs union rules after Brexit on either side of the border which is what the Irish government wants.  No formal statement has been made by either side and we will keep an eye on these developments.  

Today’s meeting between Theresa May and Jean-Claude Juncker has been set as the deadline for making concrete proposals on the border, as well as the divorce bill and citizens’ rights.

Brexit shorts

  • 50 percent of voters back a second referendum, on Brexit, poll finds
  • 60 percent of employers expect to increase staff numbers despite Brexit says all-island survey
  • The Department of Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy says it needs an additional 350 staff to implement UK’s exit from the EU
  • Read how the Brexit divorce bill is calculated

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