Belfast Telegraph

No plan to protect single market but there's still time to find way forward, says Coveney

Simon Coveney (Niall Carson/PA Wire)
Simon Coveney (Niall Carson/PA Wire)

By Michelle Devane

The Republic's foreign affairs minister has said there is no plan in place to protect the integrity of the EU single market in a no-deal Brexit scenario.

But Simon Coveney said it was not too late to create a plan that would protect the single market and the peace process on the island of Ireland in the absence of a backstop.

Mr Coveney made the comments as efforts intensify to find a way through the Brexit impasse, with the April 12 deadline looming.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar will travel to Paris today for a bilateral meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron, while German Chancellor Angela Merkel will meet Mr Varadkar in Dublin on Thursday.

Speaking to RTE News in Cork, Mr Coveney said: "In the absence of a British Government co-operating in the way that they have committed to, to actually prevent checks on the island of Ireland, well then we need to try to come up with another plan."

Asked whether it was too late with the April 12 date looming, he said: "No, it's not, because we need to continue to focus on the solution here, which is a solution that was agreed by the British Government and the EU institutions, which was to solve this problem on the basis of regulatory alignment.

"If the British Government refuse to follow through on that commitment that they have made well then, of course, we've to speak to the EU Commission about how we respond to that and that was always going to be left to the last number of weeks."

Sinn Fein leaders Mary Lou McDonald and Michelle O'Neill met EU negotiator Michel Barnier and EU Brexit co-ordinator Guy Verhofstadt yesterday.

Speaking afterwards, Ms McDonald said the Sinn Fein leadership reiterated the necessity to continue to protect Irish interests and prevent a hard border in the event of a no-deal scenario.

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