Belfast Telegraph

What position paper means for British negotiators

Q. Has the position paper from the EU materially changed anything?

A. Not particularly. It is significant in that there is a specific position paper from the European Commission that builds on the European Council guidelines and negotiating directives.

It essentially puts on paper what has already been discussed publicly, including the EU view that it's for the British to come up with solutions. It will also, Michel Barnier said, be the guide for whether the Commission feels "sufficient progress" has been made on the Irish issues to move on to phase two.

Q. So we're not any further forward on the border issue?

A. No - other than Mr Barnier reiterating that there shouldn't be one. He does state any solution can't affect Ireland's position in the single market and customs union. How the border will work will be dealt with in the next phase of the talks. For now, the EU wants to ensure the UK is committed to the common travel area and can continue to operate while also allowing Ireland to maintain free movement of EU citizens.

It wants further detail on how north/south co-operation can continue under the Good Friday Agreement, and that rights enshrined under the agreement will be maintained, including citizenship rights. The EU wants commitments around peace funding.

Q. But Mr Barnier doesn't seem that happy with how things are going?

A. He accepts progress has been made, but he's making it clear to the UK that its recent position paper on Ireland won't be a runner.

He's signalling he wants better.

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