|Addressing a joint sitting of the Irish parliament yesterday, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said, “I want to reassure the Irish people: in this negotiation Ireland’s interest will be the Union’s interest. We are in this negotiation together and a united EU will be here for you.” He also said that while “Brexit changes the external borders of the EU,” he would “work with [Ireland] to avoid a hard border [with Northern Ireland].” However, Barnier suggested that customs controls would be necessary for goods crossing the Irish border post-Brexit, saying, “Customs controls are part of EU border management. They protect the single market. They protect our food safety and our standards.” But he went on to say, “If we put things in the right order, if we negotiate with mutual respect, without any kind of aggressivity… if we are open to finding solutions, there is no reason why a strong Europe cannot maintain a strong relationship with the UK.”
Speaking during the same sitting, Irish Taoiseach Enda Kenny said that Brexit “is not an Irish policy and it is not an EU policy,” adding, “For its part, Ireland remains committed clearly to the European Union and its future.” He also announced that “Ireland will bid along with other countries for the two EU bodies currently located in London, the European Medicines Agency and the European Banking Authority.”
Open Europe’s report ‘Nothing to declare’ concluded that the UK and the EU should aim for full cooperation on the practicalities and administration of customs as part of a comprehensive UK-EU free trade deal, and that leaving the EU’s Customs Union is the only logical step for the UK to pursue an independent trade policy.
Source: Open Europe Intelligence, The Press Association