The European Union’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier expressed doubts over the UK’s proposal for keeping open its border with Ireland after Brexit next year, during a press conference in Brussels on Friday.
SOT, Michel Barnier, , European Union’s chief Brexit negotiator (French): “First of all, I’d like to make a general comment. The time has come today to take decisions and make choices. Time is moving on. I’ve said this on several occasions already – in less then 10 months time, the United Kingdom will leave the European Union, as it’s expressed the wish to do. And we have the agreement, we must conclude the agreement of the withdrawal in autumn.”
SOT, Michel Barnier, European Union’s chief Brexit negotiator (English): “Let me recall that our backstop in this document provides answers to each of these questions. It provides specification solutions to the specific situation of Northern Ireland. The UK is taking a different angle however, it is looking for a different solution. Let me be very clear – our backstop cannot be extended to the whole UK. Why? Because it has been designed for the specific situation of Northern Ireland. What does it do? On customs, Northern Ireland would form part of our customs territory. What is feasible with the territory the size of Northern Ireland is not necessarily feasible with the whole UK.”
SO, Michel Barnier, European Union’s chief Brexit negotiator (French): “The UK seems to want to maintain all the benefits of the current relationship while leaving the EU regulatory framework, common oversight and implementation. When they are told that, outside of the EU-created system, these benefits are not accessible by their own decision, some in the UK then seek to blame us for the consequences of that decision. I simply want to say that on this state of mind that they will not be impressed, we will not be impressed by this form of blame game. The UK has decided to leave the European Union; we respect this democratic decision and its implementation; the United Kingdom must accept the consequences. If the EU wants to build a new relationship, they need a base of trust, they also need more realism about what is and what will be possible and what is not.”