Sep 19, 2018 09:15 Asia/Tehran

The European Union is ready to address key British concerns over Northern Ireland, the EU’s chief negotiator said.

IranPress/Europe: Speaking on the eve of an EU summit in Salzburg, Austria, where British Prime Minister Theresa May will brief fellow leaders before they huddle on Thursday to agree on how to play what they hope will be the end-game with London, Michel Barnier called the next summit, in Brussels on Oct. 18, the “moment of truth”.

Expanding on comments he has been making for some weeks, Barnier told reporters after briefing EU ministers on Tuesday, that he was reworking his proposals to make clear how, in the event the “insurance policy” were ever activated, it would not create a physical customs border on the Irish Sea but operate by checks on goods along the Britain-Northern Ireland route.

Guardian reported,“Our proposal for the backstop on Ireland and Northern Ireland has been on the table since February,” Barnier said, switching from his native French to English to get his message over. “We are ready to improve this proposal.”

He was “clarifying which goods arriving into Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK would need to be checked and where, when and by whom these checks could be performed. We can also clarify that most checks can take place away from the border, at the company premises or in the market”.

He stressed that the EU needed to protect its single market from Britain piggybacking on Northern Ireland’s special status and to provide a “legally operational” solution — meaning he will resist a political fudge in language or a deal that would push resolution of the Irish problem until after Brexit in March and into negotiations on a future EU-UK trade agreement.

At the same time, he stressed that any backstop would “fully respect the territorial integrity of the UK” and “only apply unless and until a better solution is found, in the context of our future relationship.”

“It’s then that we shall see whether the agreement we are hoping for is within our grasp,” Barnier said.


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