Belfast Telegraph

Coveney in Brexit warning to UK over border clarity

By Colm Kelpie

Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney has strongly signalled that Brexit negotiations could be blocked from moving on to trade talks unless the UK gives more clarity on the border.

He said customs checks would be unavoidable if the UK and EU are not in the same customs union. He also said the UK had so far not provided a "credible road map" to avoiding a hard border.

"We have made good progress on the Common Travel Area and we are working through in immense detail in terms of the Good Friday Agreement, but on the border issue, we need more clarity than we have right now," Mr Coveney said. "We cannot move ahead to phase two (of the Brexit talks) on the back of a promise that we don't see any delivery mechanism to make a reality. We don't need to have all of the answers, but we certainly need to have more assurance than we do today."

Last week EU leaders said they would begin preparations to move into "phase two" of the Brexit negotiations in December.

But Mr Coveney told a Brexit event organised by AIB that for that to happen, there needs to be "progress and reality" around a number of issues.

He welcomed the British commitment to avoid a hard border, but added: "I don't see a credible road map to get us there. I just can't see it right now. I don't see how you avoid customs."

Belfast Telegraph

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