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Barnier says UK's Irish solution 'unacceptable'

By Philip Whiteside, News Reporter
The EU's chief negotiator says the UK's proposals for border arrangements between Northern Ireland and the Republic are "unacceptable".
Michel Barnier claimed the British government wanted to use Ireland as a "kind of test case" for its customs relations with the rest of the EU.He said: "The UK wants the EU to suspend the application of its laws, its customs union and its single market at what will be a new external border for the EU."And the UK wants to use Ireland as a kind of test case for the future EU-UK customs relations. This will not happen."His comments came after Brussels published a paper setting out the EU's aims for Ireland after Brexit.The paper said a "unique solution is required" to the problems created by the UK-Ireland border.And, because the problem is of the UK's making, it is the UK's responsibility to come up with that unique solution.The UK-Ireland border will be the only land border with the EU after Brexit.
Barnier says UK's Irish solution 'unacceptable'

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UK using Ireland as a 'test case'
It has dozens of crossings that many people in the area have become used to using on a daily basis without any restrictions on their movement.As well as the problems of establishing border arrangements that cope with the number and frequency of crossings, the EU policy paper said any proposal solution must also:
Allow the Common Travel Area to continue
Ensure the interlocking political institutions, established by the Good Friday Agreement, continue
Make sure the rights of people in Northern Ireland to identify themselves as British or Irish is taken into account.
Proposals published in August suggested no border posts or physical monitoring would be installed at the border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.The Whitehall paper effectively recommended no changes to the current arrangements, with the Government saying it wanted a seamless and frictionless frontier.
The proposals were broadly welcomed by politicians on both sides of the border but critics have said the absence of a hard border with the Irish Republic - an EU member which accepts the free movement of people from the bloc - would effectively offer a "back door" into the UK for immigrants after Brexit.
Barnier says UK's Irish solution 'unacceptable'

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Peel: deeply concerned about Northern Ireland
Sinn Fein called the UK proposals "delusional".The Government said it was "confident" it could still enforce new immigration controls through checks on things such as the jobs market and welfare system.Mr Barnier said that what he had seen in the British paper on Ireland and Northern Ireland worried him.He claimed the UK's proposals required the EU to suspend its own laws, customs arrangements and operation of its single market at the Northern Ireland-Ireland border.He said: "Creativity and flexibility cannot be at the expense of the integrity of the single market and the customs union. This will not be fair for Ireland and this would not be fair for the European Union."Jonathan Peel, a member of the European Economic and Social Committee, said that in order for north-south trade to continue as it has, Northern Ireland would have to remain in the EU's Customs Union, which would mean establishing a de facto border in the Irish Sea - something that could result in "violence", he added.A UK Government spokesman said: "We welcome the Commission's position paper on Northern Ireland and Ireland, which continues to demonstrate that the UK and EU's objectives on this issue are closely aligned."We were clear on our position paper that the nature of the border means that an agreed, reciprocal solution must be found. Unilateral UK flexibility will not be sufficient to meet our shared objectives, which is why we welcome the Commission's continued recognition of the need for flexible and imaginative solutions."Progress on the Irish border is one of three issues the EU wants to see resolved before it is willing to enter talks on a new relationship over trade and other aspects with Britain after Brexit.
news.sky.com
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