Michel Barnier rebuffs UK request to sort out backstop later
9 months ago
The EU said a workable solution to the backstop was ‘essential’ as part of a withdrawal deal, not after.
EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier Friday rebuffed a request from the U.K. to agree a withdrawal deal and sort the Irish backstop out at a later date.
Following a meeting with U.K. Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay in Brussels, a spokesman for the EU said it was “essential that there is a fully workable and legally operational solution” to the backstop before Britain leaves the bloc.
Barclay had argued in a speech on Thursday that the U.K. could need another year to have a workaround ready, and suggested the implementation period following a deal could be used to sort out the backstop.
He told an audience in Madrid that “the alternative to the backstop is not necessary until the end of the implementation period in December 2020, and this will be shaped by the future relationship — which is still to be determined.”
But after the meeting with Barnier today, a European Commission spokesman said any solution to the Irish border issue must be “included in the Withdrawal Agreement. We remain willing and open to examine any such proposals that meet all the objectives of the backstop.”
In a television clip, Barclay said there was a “common purpose” in Dublin, London and Brussels to “get a deal over the line.”
The response from the EU was as expected, and Barclay had noted in his speech that Finnish Prime Minister Antti Rinne had demanded a workable solution by the end of September. Downing Street said it would not be bound by an “artificial deadline.”
Technical teams will meet again next week, while Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to meet European Council President Donald Tusk at the United Nations General Assembly in New York.