Posts Tagged ‘Michel Barnier’

Theresa May promised Global Britain, and now Brexiteers want her to deliver

May 15, 2018

Theresa May is sitting down with her cabinet colleagues again this afternoon in the hope of getting some clarity over the post-Brexit customs arrangements British officials should pursue with the European Union.

By Asa Bennett
The Telegraph
15 MAY 2018 • 12:46PM

Philip Hammond, U.K. chancellor of the exchequer, left, Greg Clark, U.K. business secretary, center, and Liam Fox, U.K. international trade secretary, sit in the audience for the speech of U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May on day three of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, on Thursday, Jan. 25, 20

Liam Fox looks on as his Brexitsceptic colleagues Greg Clark and Philip Hammond catch up CREDIT:JASON ALDEN /BLOOMBERG 

The potential for progress is going to be limited, given that ministers had not got very far last night in their attempts to improve and refine the existing proposals. Stagnation would be representative of the state of play for the wider Brexit talks, with Michel Barnier declaring “little” progress has been made since March and that there was a “risk of failure” due to areas like the Irish border question.

That can only be frustrating for the prime minister, as her Irish counterpart has…

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Barnier warns Brexit talks at ‘risk’ over Ireland issue

April 30, 2018

The European Commission’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier warned the talks were at “risk” because of disagreements over the future of the Irish border after Britain leaves the European Union.

© AFP/File | Barnier called for a “clear and operational solution for Ireland” to be included in the Brexit deal

AFP

At a press conference during his visit to Ireland, Barnier called for a “clear and operational solution for Ireland” to be included in the Brexit deal, adding: “Until we reach this agreement, there is a risk”.

Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar warned that Britain’s “approach to negotiations will need to change in some way” if there is to be agreement over the issue.

London has committed to avoid a “hard border” with checkpoints between British-ruled Northern Ireland and EU-member Ireland, which all sides agree is vital to maintaining the 1998 Good Friday peace accords.

However, it has also said it will not enter into a customs union with the EU post-Brexit, and has been urged to find a solution to reconcile the two positions.

The EU has suggested a “backstop” proposal, in which only Northern Ireland stays in a customs union with the EU post-Brexit, could be a possible solution.

“The backstop we put in the draft treaty, is not there to change the UK red lines, it is there because of the UK red lines, because of the red lines on the customs union and single market,” said Barnier.

Ireland foreign minister Simon Coveney said that “substantial progress” needed to be made by June’s European Council meeting.

David Davis looks to seize Brexit initiative from Michel Barnier

April 19, 2018

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David Davis (left) and Michel Barnier © Reuters

Move to set agenda by early publication of plans for future UK-EU relationship

James Blitz and George Parker

David Davis, the UK Brexit secretary, is urging prime minister Theresa May to get ahead of the EU by publishing detailed proposals for the future UK-EU relationship “as soon as possible” rather than waiting for Brussels to lay down its terms.

Mr Davis’s allies have discussed Britain producing a document of more than 50 pages — possibly as early as next month — setting out detailed plans on issues such as a future customs relationship, financial services and regulation.

Until now, Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, has always been the first to produce drafts of the legal texts that need to be negotiated in the Brexit negotiations, effectively setting the agenda for talks.

UK and EU officials met in Brussels on Wednesday to hold preliminary talks on the future relationship, with a view to drawing up a political declaration by October.

Mrs May’s allies confirmed that there had been “early-stage” discussions on producing a report on the British negotiating position ahead of the June European Council meeting, and that Mr Davis wanted the paper to be as detailed as possible.

But publishing a detailed account of Britain’s plan for a future relationship could upset a fragile cabinet truce on Europe, as there are still tensions among ministers over exactly how close the UK should stay to the EU after Brexit.

“The more general it is, the easier it would be to get through cabinet,” said one person close to the discussions. “There is obviously some tension around how much detail we can agree.”

Olly Robbins, the lead official in Brexit talks, has pointed out that the EU expects detailed negotiations on a trade deal to take place after the UK leaves the EU next March, during the “implementation period”, regardless of whether Britain tries to force the pace.

However, Mrs May and Mr Davis have decided that Britain should try to secure as much detail in October as possible, rather than deliberately keeping the deal vague, so as to secure maximum agreement within the Tory party and satisfy Whitehall officials.

“The big decision has been taken,” said one senior government figure. “We want to secure a detailed agreement on the future relationship in October, otherwise how will we get it through parliament?”

Mr Davis has argued that Eurosceptic Tory MPs will not sign off on the EU withdrawal treaty — including an exit bill of £39bn — unless they know what they are being offered by Brussels in terms of a long-term trade deal.

Dominic Grieve, a leading pro-European Tory MP, said this week that he agreed that parliament would need a detailed statement in October before it holds its “meaningful vote” on the exit deal.

Bob Neill, another pro-EU Tory, said Mr Davis was right to push for a detailed policy statement. “It would be good for business and for the public generally. It’s important that we are not seen to be forever reactive.”

https://www.ft.com/content/c13021f2-4313-11e8-803a-295c97e6fd0b

See also:

Brexit: first talks on future UK relationship with EU begin

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/apr/18/brexit-first-talks-on-uks-future-relationship-with-eu-begin

Four more rounds of negotiations have been pencilled in ahead of a crunch EU summit in June, when European leaders will next assess Brexit. Two rounds are planned for May and two in June, with the aim of working through a long list of unresolved issues on the divorce, including Ireland and an outline text of the future relationship.

The EU is undecided about how much detail should go into the text on the future relationship before Brexit day in March 2019. Germany is pushing for a detailed, legally precise text to avoid surprises during the post-Brexit trade talks, but Scandinavian and Benelux countries prefer to keep the document vague to give the UK maximum room to change its mind.

EU officials are watching the passage of Brexit legislation in the UK closely, paying special attention to an amendment on staying in the customs union. “Should they decide to say in the customs union, I don’t see why the EU would say this is not feasible,” said a senior official, adding that the EU took no view on the hotly contested issue of whether there should be a referendum on the final deal. “We are all pretty agnostic on that, because these are all domestic issues to be settled,” the source said. “It is only natural to take a clear look at the future before you jump into the abyss.”

Brexit: Michel Barnier says draft transition treaty mostly agreed

March 19, 2018

Chief EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier has announced agreement on most of the issues that could allow the EU to offer Britain a transition deal. Some concerns about the Irish border still need to be resolved, though.

Brexit Michel Barnier David Davis (picture-alliance/AP Photo/V. Mayo)

The EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier announced on Monday that agreement had been reached on a number of issues that could allow the EU to offer Britain a transition deal for the period after it leaves the bloc.

“We have reached an agreement on the transition period,” Barnier told a press conference in Brussels after talks with his British counterpart David Davis. “The transition will be of limited duration.”

Read moreUK lawmakers suggest postponing Brexit

The UK hopes to secure a transition period of two years that would maintain access to the single market while allowing more flexibility on issues such as forging trade deals with third-party countries. Agreement of a deal when EU leaders meet on Friday is vital for UK businesses.

“The period of transition requested by the United Kingdom will be a time which is useful, very useful, for the United Kingdom administration and businesses in order to prepare themselves for the future,” Barnier said.

The agreement foresees keeping all EU rules in place in Britain until the end of 2020. During the period, Barnier said, Britain would no longer take part in setting rules.

Barnier said the transition would allow Britain and the EU to finalize their eventual relationship.

There was not yet a clear vision of future arrangements around the Irish border. Barnier said. But he added that a “backstop solution” had been agreed that would avoid a hard customs border.

“We have agreed that the backstop solution must form part of the legal text of the withdrawal agreement.”

Davis and Barnier had met earlier on Monday. Envoys from member states in Brussels had been summoned to an urgent meeting ahead of those talks.

Just ahead of the announcement, the Irish government said it needed a guarantee from the EU that there would be no hard border on the island of Ireland.

Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said it wanted Brussels to ensure that a fallback protocol agreed in December would be adhered to as part of any deal.

Read more: Northern Ireland’s fragile peace ‘all about the border’

“The EU27 have been consistent that there can be no backsliding on any part of December’s agreement,” Coveney was quoted as saying ahead of a meeting with fellow EU foreign ministers in Brussels.

“This highlights the importance of the UK engaging meaningfully on all aspects of the Withdrawal Agreement, including the fallback Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland.”

On early flight to Brussels for meeting with @MichelBarnier this morning – important day in negotiations in build up to EU Council on Thurs/Fri – no backsliding on Irish Border issue remains clear focus to facilitate progress on other issues.

The pound sterling, which has shown jitters in recent weeks amid warnings from Barnier that a transition might not be agreed, on Monday rose to its highest level against the euro since February.

Brexit Bulletin: The Bridge Gets Built

March 19, 2018

Bloomberg

Image result for Brexit, photos

By Emma Ross-Thomas

  • Davis and Barnier meet in Brussels on transition deal
  • U.K. is trying to get a written commitment on transition

Sign up to receive the Brexit Bulletin in your inbox, and follow @Brexit on Twitter.

It’s crunch week for businesses wanting to know the rules and trading regime they’ll be operating under just a year from now.

On Monday, Brexit Secretary David Davis and chief EU negotiator Michel Barnier meet in Brussels. A news conference has been penciled in for midday. Davis has avoided appearing alongside Barnier so far this year, so it could be a sign the two sides are on track to reach an agreement on a transition phase that will keep all the rules the same until the end of 2020 — or 21 months after exit day.

The U.K. is trying to secure a written promise from the EU about the transition agreement, Tim Ross reports. Businesses are cranking up the pressure to make the transition as solid — and useful — as possible. They are becoming increasingly aware that any agreement reached at the summit this week will be a political commitment — not legally binding until the final withdrawal agreement is signed early next year. Barnier has made the point repeatedly in recent weeks that there’s no transition without a final deal and that the transition agreement isn’t certain until the divorce deal is inked. With the Irish border issue still an intractable riddle, that’s a warning that businesses have to take seriously.

Davis and Barnier are to meet later today.
Photographer: Dario Pignatelli/Bloomberg

British negotiators are pushing for the EU to include an explicit statement in negotiating guidelines. They want the document to state that an agreement in principle has been reached on the terms of transition, according to a person familiar with the matter. The draft guidelines circulated earlier this month leave some blanks at the top to be updated just before the summit and the holding language is vaguer — it says the EU side “welcomes/notes the progress” on transition.

That kind of language wouldn’t go down well with businesses and might not be enough for them to put their contingency plans back in the drawer.

“Political agreement on transition alleviates some pressure on some companies, but it would be a mistake to think it solves the Brexit readiness problem,” said James Stewart, head of Brexit at KPMG. “Just as no lawyer would allow you to complete a major deal without a legally binding contract, so it would be equally reckless for businesses to scrap their contingency plans until they have a similar level of assurance.”

Brexit Latest

Unison Strained | National interests are starting to test the united front that the 27 remaining EU members have shown so far during the Brexit talks, according to three people with knowledge of the process, Ian Wishart reports. At issue is whether to add language on specific industries — and addressing the concerns of specific countries. At a meeting in Brussels this week, Spain, whose national airline Iberia is owned by the same company as British Airways, signaled it would like specific references to aviation, while Luxembourg wants more detail on financial services.

View From Berlin | German Chancellor Angela Merkel is still looking for clarity from the U.K., she said in her weekly podcast published on Saturday. “We will, for the first time, talk about what our vision for our future relation with the U.K. looks like,” Merkel said. “Of course, the U.K. also has to say what it wants.” May gave her detailed vision in a landmark speech on March 2, but EU officials have dismissed many of the proposals as unworkable.

Finance Is Fine | Royal Bank of Scotland Chairman Howard Davies said the finance industry is unlikely to be the one to make a longer transition period after Brexit necessary. “If you suddenly faced a cliff edge, you’d have to move people very quickly into another a city,” he said on Sky News. “But the issue would be finding apartments — it wouldn’t be building huge facilities.” Banks are well ahead of other companies when it comes to contingency measures, and RBS has plans for a subsidiary in Amsterdam.

Aviation Risk | The U.K.’s Civil Aviation Authority doesn’t have the capacity to take over the functions of the equivalent European regulator, and it would take five to 10 years even to begin that process, according to a parliamentary committee report. The chief executive of the U.K. authority told the panel that “it would be misleading to suggest that’s a viable option.” Any transition from one authority to another would lead to disruptions and risks to the industry, according to the report.

Freelancing Boris | Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said it’s “claptrap” to say the European Court of Justice will continue to have some influence over the U.K. after it leaves the EU, contradicting Prime Minister Theresa May, who made it clear in her March 2 speech that the court will still have a role after the split.

Minority Report | Parliament’s cross-party Brexit Committee is so divided that the pro-Brexit faction refused to sign off on a report this weekend and issued its own minority report that attacked the stance taken by the chairman of the influential panel. The committee’s main paper called for the government to consider extending next year’s withdrawal deadline. Hardline Brexit campaigner Jacob Rees-Mogg, who is on the committee, said the proposal “is the prospectus for the vassal state” and sets out a “future not worthy of us as a country.”

On the Markets | Pound traders are cautiously awaiting signs of progress toward a transition deal. Even if those expectations are met, any gains in the currency may be short-lived, Charlotte Ryan reports.

And Finally…

London’s pain is Luxembourg’s gain. While London house prices fall, Luxembourg’s are rising so much that its red-light district looks like it will be a likely home for bankers escaping Brexit. As the Grand Duchy prepares to welcome financiers relocating from the U.K., a lack of housing has pushed the price of relatively modest family homes beyond the €1 million mark ($1.2 million), Stephanie Bodoni reports.

That has led to edgier areas being developed to keep up with demand. One luxurious project called “Soho” has sprung up around the Rue de Strasbourg, which is slowly shedding its reputation as a cut-throat, no-go-area populated by drug pushers and pimps.

The Luxembourg City skyline.
Photographer: Getty Images

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https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-03-19/brexit-bulletin-the-bridge-gets-built

EU convenes urgent Brexit meeting amid deal talk

March 19, 2018

Reuters

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Diplomats handling Brexit talks for EU member states in Brussels were summoned to an urgent meeting by EU negotiators on Monday, diplomats and officials said, amid speculation about an interim deal ahead of a summit later this week.

“There could be a deal,” one senior EU diplomat said. Another however played down talk that good progress in negotiations with Britain over the weekend had reached the point of assuring London of a transition deal after Brexit.

Image result for Michel Barnier and david davis, photos

British Brexit Secretary David Davis will meet the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier in Brussels shortly after 11 a.m. (1000 GMT) as the two sides try to hammer out an interim deal before leaders meet for a summit on Thursday.

Envoys will meet before Davis meets Barnier.

Several EU officials and diplomats said intense talks over the weekend aimed, among other things, at resolving serious differences over the Irish border had made good progress.

But one senior EU source involved in discussions said talk of a deal being agreed was “hype”.

Spokesmen for Barnier and the British government declined official comment.

Reporting by Gabriela Baczynska and Alastair Macdonald in Brussels and Elizabeth Piper in London; Writing by Alastair Macdonald; Editing by Catherine Evans

EU’s negotiator says Britain can only get a free-trade deal now — EU is piling pressure on Britain

March 1, 2018

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Michel Barnier

Reuters

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Union’s Brexit negotiator said on Thursday that London’s stance on its future ties with the bloc only left a free trade agreement as an option.

Michel Barnier’s speech at a seminar in Brussels comes as the EU is piling pressure on Britain over slow Brexit talks, warning it on citizens’ rights, the Irish border and stressing that a post-Brexit transition period is not a done deal.

“The UK is closing the doors on itself one by one and the only possible model which remains is that of the free trade agreement, as we did recently with Canada, Japan or Korea,” Barnier said.

“It is always possible to choose a more ambitious model and stay in a customs union with the European Union but it would imply a balance of rights and obligations,” he said.

Barnier stressed the EU would not compromise on what it sees as its basic principles – the integrity of its single market and the free movement of goods and people, among others.

He also warned that business would only be sure of any post-Brexit transition once Britain’s EU withdrawal treaty was ratified early next year, in time for the country to leave the bloc in March 2019.

“The future of our union is much more important that the Brexit,” Barnier said.

Additional reporting by Alissa de Carbonnel, Robert-Jan Bartunek and Samantha Koester, Writing by Gabriela Baczynska; Editing by Alison Williams

Brexit: Jacob Rees-Mogg issues stern warning to Ireland over Brussels border threat

March 1, 2018
JACOB Rees-Mogg has issued a stern warning to the Republic of Ireland, deterring Dublin from falling in line with European Union demands to keep Northern Ireland under Brussels’ rule after Brexit.

Jacob Rees-Mogg warned the Irish economy could suffer if the  decided to impose a border between the two Irish nations.

The staunch pro- politician suggested the British Government will not seek to create a physical border between Dublin and Belfast but will reject attempts from Brussels to control Northern Ireland.

He said: “When we leave the European Union we won’t have to impose any border in Ireland if we don’t want to. That will be a unilateral decision to be taken by the British Government.

“If we do, if that is what the European Union wants and we go along with it, the losers will be the Republic of Ireland. The economy of the Republic of Ireland would be in very bad shape if we impose the common external tariff on them. Irish agriculture, with tariffs on beef of up to 70 percent would be ruined if we imposed that.

“The Irish have a huge interest in keeping the border open.”

Brexit news - Jacob Rees-Mogg and Michel BarnierSKY NEWS•EBS

Brexit news: Jacob Rees-Mogg said it is in Ireland’s interest to

EU Brexit negotiator  set out the bloc’s draft Brexit treaty today with demands to align Northern Ireland with Brussels’ rules – including the customs union – in order to avoid a hard border, threatening to derail an agreement with the UK.

The EU’s Ireland plans could cause havoc in Westminster, with Theresa May’s partners the DUP set against divergence from the rest of the UK.

Mr Rees-Mogg spoke out against Mr Barnier’s proposal, saying the EU was being “quite improper” suggesting to “split the UK up.”

He told Sky News: “Northern Ireland is as much part of our country as Somerset is and for the European Union proposing splitting up the United Kingdom is quite an improper suggestion for them to make.”

The European Commission’s draft text for the UK’s withdrawal agreement sets out in legal terms plans for the establishment of a “common regulatory area” between the EU and Northern Ireland.

The plans envisage an area spanning the whole island of Ireland with no internal borders and free movement of goods.

The draft proposal suggests that EU and UK customs authorities should jointly oversee movements between Northern Ireland and the British mainland, while Europe would retain control over aspects of taxation and state aid in the six counties.According to the document, that area would cover customs, VAT, energy, the environment, agriculture and a host of other areas, including full European Court of Justice jurisdiction.

Mr Barnier said the Ireland idea was a “backstop solution” to avoid a hard border.

He said: “It’s the only way to guarantee our joint commitments will be upheld in all circumstances.”

The text states that the proposed arrangements for Northern Ireland will cease to apply if and when alternative solutions are agreed to “address the unique circumstances on the island of Ireland, avoiding a hard border and protecting the 1998 Agreement in all its dimensions”.

EU Brexit Proposal Revives Irish Border Fight

February 28, 2018

Document laying out divorce terms suggests a step that would effectively divide Northern Ireland’s economic rules from the rest of the U.K.

Michel Barnier, chief negotiator for the European Union, appears at a news conference following the publication of the EU’s draft Brexit treaty in Brussels.
Michel Barnier, chief negotiator for the European Union, appears at a news conference following the publication of the EU’s draft Brexit treaty in Brussels. PHOTO: BLOOMBERG NEWS

A European Union document laying out its divorce terms with the U.K. is reigniting a debate over Northern Ireland’s future, intensifying friction within Prime Minister Theresa May’s fragile government and underscoring the difficulties of defining post-Brexit relations.

The lengthy document proposes among other things a common economic area on the island of Ireland after Brexit, a step that would effectively divide Northern Ireland’s economic rules from the rest of the U.K.

That is likely to re-open a potentially explosive fight that almost derailed the Brexit negotiations in December. It also presents a challenge for Mrs. May, whose minority government depends on the support of a Northern Irish party that strongly resists any separation of Northern Ireland from the rest of the U.K.

It is likely to force the hand of Mrs. May, who is scheduled to give a big speech on Brexit on Friday,​ to lay out in more detail her so-far vague plans on a joint commitment from the U.K. and EU to avoid creating an economic border between the U.K.-governed north and the Republic of Ireland, which will remain in the EU.

The Democratic Unionist Party, which Mrs. May’s minority government depends upon for a parliamentary majority, immediately condemned the proposal as weakening Northern Ireland’s status in the U.K.

The EU’s proposal would effectively create “a hard border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the U.K.—an utterly preposterous suggestion,” said Nigel Dodds, deputy leader of he DUP. “We didn’t leave the EU to oversee the breakup of the United Kingdom.”

It has been so far impossible to reconcile the absence of a hard border with her pledge that the U.K. will leave the EU’s customs union and its single market of goods and services. Politicians from both sides fear the restoration of a hard border could threaten the fragile peace on the island.

“This draft text contains no surprise for our British counterparts… It includes the position of the union which were already known,” said Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator.

He said the EU awaited U.K. proposals on alternative​solutions.​​

The aim, which is phrased in a draft legal text as a fall-back option, aims to ensure that the economic rules in Northern Ireland remain broadly aligned with Ireland, which will stay inside the EU, to ensure continued smooth trade between the two.

This option would put Northern Ireland inside the EU’s customs union, while the rest of the U.K. leaves it, in effect creating a customs border in the Irish Sea.

The Irish government said it would prefer not to see that fall-back option being triggered and is instead looking to a speech from Mrs. May, scheduled for Friday, to lay out alternatives to avoid a hard border.

“This should never come into effect,” Helen McEntee, Ireland’s minister for European affairs told the state-owned broadcaster RTE. “We should never have to be in the backstop position.”

The Irish government also faces a difficult balancing act. It believes the introduction of a border threatens a return to the three decades of violent conflict over the future of Northern Ireland that was effectively ended by the 1998 Good Friday Agreement. But it doesn’t want to endanger a relationship with Britain that has since then been the most cordial in a long and troubled history.

Its fears were crystalized by comments Wednesday from U.K. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, who said the Irish border question was being used to prevent Britain leaving the EU.

That analysis raises the possibility that Britons who want a definitive break with the EU could hold Ireland responsible if they fail to secure their objective, souring future relations between the close neighbors.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/eu-brexit-proposal-revives-irish-border-fight-1519821711

EU drafts Northern Ireland control as part of Brexit — Michel Barnier suggests Prime Minister Theresa May and her government “pick up the pace” of negotiations

February 28, 2018

Reuters

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Union could maintain much of its sway in Northern Ireland after Brexit under a draft treaty published on Wednesday that caused anger in London and Belfast as the EU warned time was running out for a deal.

 Image may contain: 1 person, suit

European Union’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier. REUTERS

Brussels’ chief negotiator Michel Barnier denied that the proposal for avoiding a disruptive EU-UK “hard border” on the island of Ireland would loosen Northern Ireland’s constitutional ties to the rest of the United Kingdom and stressed he was open to other solutions to the border dilemma that Britain may offer.

“Daily life around the border should continue as today,” Barnier told reporters as the European Commission published its draft withdrawal treaty.

However, he rammed home that “time is short” before Britain will be out of the EU in exactly 13 months. He called on Prime Minister Theresa May to “pick up the pace” of negotiations so that a withdrawal treaty, including terms for keeping the status quo during a two-year transition period, could be agreed this autumn in order to be ratified by parliaments before next March.

He repeated that the EU is “preparing for every situation” in case no deal is struck and the continent’s second-biggest economy lurches chaotically out of the Union after 46 years.

May, who will lay out her vision for a post-Brexit free trading relationship with the EU on Friday, said no government could ever agree to the EU proposals and said she would work to protect UK unity in the negotiations. She again ruled out a customs union — something that her Labour opponents advocate as a way to avoid disruptive controls at Ireland’s EU-UK border.

Speaking in parliament in London while Barnier was speaking in Brussels, she repeated that she wanted to avoid a hard border. Her pro-British allies in Belfast, on whom she relies for a slim majority to see through her Brexit legislation, pulled no punches in deriding Brussels’ proposals for a “common regulatory area” comprising the EU and Northern Ireland.

“This is a ludicrous, over-the-top suggestion put forward by Michel Barnier. It will not go anywhere. The way forward is to get into the trade talks and then and only then will you know what the border arrangements need to be,” the Democratic Unionist Party’s Nigel Dodds told BBC Radio Ulster.

The UK Independence Party, which helped force the referendum in which Britons voted to leave the EU in 2016, accused the EU executive of trying to “annexe” Northern Ireland.

Unionists fear that raising new barriers with the British mainland could increase the chances of a future move to reunite the province with EU member the Irish Republic. Barnier conceded there might have to be extra checks on trade between Northern Ireland and the mainland but said there would not be a “border.”

“NO ARROGANCE HERE”

Dismissing suggestions that the draft was an attempt to “shock” Britons into concluding a deal, Barnier insisted no one in Britain should be surprised by it, as it was based on interim accords reached in December, as well as on known EU positions which Britain is resisting but are part of negotiations.

“There is no arrogance here,” the former French minister said, insisting he merely wanted to see an orderly Brexit.

The draft treaty sees a joint EU-UK committee overseeing the arrangements but the European Court of Justice remaining the ultimate authority to resolve disputes.

The Irish proposal was, he said, in line with a “backstop” publicly agreed with May in December and could be superseded if Britain puts forward a detailed alternative solution. He said the treaty made no mention of a clause in December’s EU-UK joint report that there be no divergence between Great Britain and Northern Ireland because that was an internal UK matter.

Barnier renewed his view that the kind of future trade proposals which May is widely expected to make on Friday to maintain a mixture of common and different regulations with the EU were not acceptable. “There will be no cherry-picking,” he said, referring to EU concerns Britain wants a sweetheart deal.

Barnier said he would engage in a new round of negotiations next week and would also meet leaders of Northern Ireland early in the week. He stressed that there remain “significant divergences” in talks on whether Britain might get a transition.

Additional reporting by Philip Blenkinsop, Jan Strupczewski, editing by Robin Emmott