Varadkar: Backstop deal on border must be agreed
The backstop deal to guarantee a frictionless border must be formally approved before an agreement can be reached on a future relationship between the EU and Britain, the Taoiseach has warned.
Leo Varadkar also dismissed suggestions that talks on Brexit and preventing a border in the North would come down to the last minute in October as Britain would not be at that EU summit then.
Ongoing questions around Brexit come ahead of another summit later this month in Brussels where EU leaders will meet.
Speaking in Madrid yesterday, Mr Varadkar again stressed that, at the moment, not enough progress has been made by Britain on the Irish question.
“As things stand, I can’t say that sufficient progress has been made,” he said. “I think the customs paper produced by the UK government is welcome. It is a small step in the right direction. But it isn’t enough, we will have to hold the UK to the commitments that it made in t h e a g re e m e n t i n D e cember.”
This draft agreement said that, in the absence of fresh solutions from London, a backstop deal would guarantee no new border in the North.
Mr Varadkar reiterated that the EU taskforce and member states continue to stand behind Ireland’s position.
He also said he looked for- ward to welcoming European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker to Dublin next Tuesday.
Asked if he expected any more contributions or progress from British prime minister Theresa May before the June meeting, Mr Varadkar said: “That would be necessary for us to say that real and substantial progress has been made.
“All we are asking the UK government is that it honour the commitment that it made back in December.
“As things stand, we have a withdrawal agreement and a backstop, but still in draft form. And they will need to be agreed before we can agree anything on a future relationship between the EU and UK.”
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar meets new Spanish prime minister Pedro Sánchez in Madrid.