Belfast Telegraph

Republic and EU countries still on the same page, says Coveney

By Kevin Doyle

The Irish government has dismissed reports it faces pressure from six EU countries to outline detailed plans for border patrols in a no-deal Brexit scenario.

Reports in the British media suggested "a gang" involving representatives from France, Germany, Belgium, Poland, Denmark and the Netherlands is insisting that Taoiseach Leo Varadkar must set out in operational detail how he intends to protect the EU border.

It was claimed there is a growing impatience among EU member states over the refusal of the Irish government to spell what will happen if the Withdrawal Agreement, which includes the backstop, is not approved.

But a spokesperson for Tanaiste Simon Coveney said he is confident the solidarity shown by the remaining EU states remains solid.

"The EU has been clear that it is determined to do all it can, deal or no deal, to avoid the need for a border and to protect the peace process in Ireland," he said.

"Work is continuing with the European Commission on how to achieve, in a no deal scenario, our shared twin objectives of protecting the integrity of the Single Market and Ireland's place in it and avoiding any physical infrastructure on the island of Ireland. Without the Withdrawal Agreement and the backstop, there are no easy answers," the spokesperson added.

Separately, Dublin sources acknowledge that they still can't see any workable "alternative arrangements".

"This means difficult conversations will have to take place with the EU Commission in a no-deal scenario but we're not there yet," the source said.

It comes as a UK business group set up to examine Brexit backstop alternatives meets for the first time today.

The Business and Trade Union Alternative Arrangements Advisory Group will examine work to replace the Northern Ireland backstop by the end of 2020.

Brexit Minister Robin Walker said it shows the UK is prioritising a replacement to the backstop. Funding of £20m is being made available to support the development, testing or piloting of any ideas that emerge from the advisory groups.

Large companies, who can represent the views of themselves and their suppliers, are represented as well as smaller companies who rely on cross-border just-in-time supply chains. They will consider how to simplify the movement of goods across borders, including trusted trader schemes and advanced use of data and IT systems.

Belfast Telegraph


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