Brexit negotiators present EU with NEW plan for Ireland to AVOID customs union

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Posted on Mar 27 2018 - 11:49am by admin

The plan is an alternative to the backstop text put forward by the EU and aims to avoid the creation of a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic.

UK’s chief Brexit civil servant Olly Robbins is leading a team of officials to Brussels today to forge a successful withdrawal agreement that includes a solution to the Irish problem and avoids an exit from the EU without a deal.

The group is set to discuss customs, food safety, animal health and the regulation of other goods.

Anonymous sources within the team told Politico the British proposal would see the UK aligning to single market rules and regulations for trade in goods and agree on a new customs arrangements between the UK and the EU.

The solution could be considered fitting by the EU and the UK and even the Democratic Unionist Party, but officials are afraid the European Commission might consider it a form of “cherry picking” and block it. 

Speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, Brexit Secretary David Davis said it was “overwhelmingly likely” the border issue would be solved in the context of a trade and customs agreement.

However, Britain accepted the need to sign a legally binding ‘backstop’ clause within the transition period agreement, to guarantee against a hard border on the island of Ireland, even if a solution is not found in a free trade deal.

The deal reads: “The negotiators have reached agreement on some elements of the draft protocol.

“They further agree that the full set of issues related to avoiding a hard border covered in the draft reflect those that need to be addressed in any solution.” 

Ireland has thanked the EU for its effort to avoid the creation of a hard border on the island. 

The Republic’s Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Leo Varadkar said during last Friday’s EU summit: “We have absolute unconditional support that there can be no agreement unless a hard border is avoided.

“There’s a real understanding across the EU that the EU demonstrates it supports a small member state staying – even if that means not being able to support a large member state leaving.

“It’s not just about Ireland, the EU knows this is a test on whether it is worth being in EU.” 

Agreeing that the solution to avoid a hard border could lie within Northern Ireland maintaining tight economic ties to Dublin, he added: “The way the backstop can be changed is for us to develop a close trading relationship between the UK and the EU, so close many of the things within the backstop may become necessary for example a really deep free trade agreement and what’s been talked about before a customs union partnership.

“An alternative solution would bring the UK closer to the union and may mean we don’t need a backstop.”

Negotiators hope to find an agreement before the European Council summit taking place in June and to be ready to present a final agreement in October that can be ratified by both the British and European Parliaments.

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