Michel Barnier, European Commission Chief Negotiator for Brexit, expressed concern over Boris Johnson’s position on the Irish-Northern border. Barnier said the British prime minister had changed London’s previous stance and only wanted to avoid the introduction of physical border controls at the border.
Barnier stressed at a conference in Brussels following the end of Britain’s membership of the EU (Brexit) with the ambassador of the 27 remaining EU members, Johnson seems to undermine the goals of preserving the whole of Ireland’s economy and North-South cooperation. The British government has still not made concrete proposals as to why it wants to avoid Irish-Northern border controls, he said.
In a speech to the chief negotiator, London made it clear that it was seeking to sign a comprehensive but limited trade agreement with the Union. It does not want to enter into a legal commitment, a level playing field or harmonized state aid rules to ensure fair competition.
As he emphasized, there is a growing danger that Britain will leave the European Union without an agreement. He called it unrealistic to expect any British expectation that the deadline for the end of British membership on 31 October was approaching due to pressure from the EU to reopen the exit agreement at the EU summit in mid-October and then ratify it by the end of the month. That is why the 27 Member States remaining in the Union must remain united, Barnier added.
One of the cornerstones of the agreement on the conditions for UK membership and future relations is the backstop issue, which is needed as the UK wants to leave the single market and customs union . However, the free passage of the Irish border is one of the cornerstones of the so-called Good Friday agreement that ends the Irish conflict. Under the mechanism, the whole of the United Kingdom would remain in a customs union with the EU if, and as long as, no bilateral trade agreement could be reached which in itself would render redundant a redundant solution. In addition, certain rules of the EU single market would remain in force in Northern Ireland. But the agreement between London and the EU was rejected three times by the British Parliament.
The European Union has repeatedly made it clear that no exit agreement without a backstop clause is possible. In addition, at the last postponement of the exit, the British Government also accepted that the agreement could not be renegotiated.
However, Boris Johnson said in a speech in the House of Commons on Tuesday that “new talks” were under way with Brussels on a new agreement, though he did not give details.