No new ideas from UK as the Brexit im­passe drags on

Irish Independent - - News - Shona Mur­ray Spe­cial Cor­re­spon­dent

THE Brexit im­passe is set to con­tinue as the Bri­tish gov­ern­ment is not ex­pected to ta­ble any more so­lu­tions ahead of this month’s crunch sum­mit.

Se­nior Brexit sources have told the Ir­ish In­de­pen­dent they are brac­ing them­selves for a highly charged fort­night as the clock ticks to­wards an­other spell of brinkman­ship.

Next week sees the fi­nal round of ne­go­ti­a­tions for the EU-UK task forces in Brus­sels, where the UK was obliged to set­tle some of the ques­tions raised by last week’s pro­pos­als.

Brus­sels and Ire­land said the of­fer from the UK – where Bri­tain would stay in the cus­toms union af­ter the tran­si­tion pe­riod to avoid some checks for a “time lim­ited” ar­range­ment – was in­ad­e­quate.

It “raised more ques­tions than an­swers” said EU chief ne­go­tia­tor Michel Barnier.

The back­stop is the le­gal- ly-bind­ing pro­vi­sion de­signed to en­sure no bor­der is ever erected on the is­land of Ire­land in the event that talks be­tween the EU and UK on find­ing a bet­ter so­lu­tion fail.

The doc­u­ment was also largely silent on the mat­ter of reg­u­la­tory align­ment – the strict EU rules and stan­dards that ap­ply within the sin­gle mar­ket.

Reg­u­la­tions

Un­less North­ern Ire­land and the State are ap­ply­ing the same reg­u­la­tions on goods pass­ing into each other’s ju­ris­dic­tions, a bor­der will be nec­es­sary.

The sum­mit on June 28-29 will be “very dif­fi­cult – more from the UK’s per­spec­tive than any­one else’s” if they don’t de­liver some­thing, said a wellplaced source.

Mean­while from Madrid, the Taoiseach warned the UK that “putting this off doesn’t make it any eas­ier”.

Leo Varad­kar also said “it’s not the case where there is go­ing to be some sort of com­pro­mise cob­bled to­gether late at night at the EU Coun­cil meet­ing in Oc­to­ber”.

The fi­nal dead­line for all of the el­e­ments of the With­drawal Agree­ment – the terms and con­di­tions of the UK’s de­par­ture from the EU af­ter 45 years of mem­ber­ship – is the Oc­to­ber EU sum­mit. How­ever, there is al­ready talk of slip­page on this date.

“The EU coun­cil meet­ing in Oc­to­ber is not a ne­go­ti­at­ing meet­ing.

The UK will not be there so any agree­ment will have to be con­cluded be­tween the UK on the one hand, and the EU task force on the other.

“And I don’t see any ben­e­fit for the United Kingdom in putting things off,” said Mr Varad­kar.

Ear­lier in the week, Tanáiste and For­eign Af­fairs Min­is­ter Si­mon Coveney told the Ir­ish In­de­pen­dent there was “huge frus­tra­tion” in Brus­sels over the lack of sub­stance from Down­ing Street.

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