Britain’s proposals on its future relationship with the European Union contain constructive elements, but many questions remain, EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said.
In a press statement Barnier ensured that he will continue discussion with Dominic Raab in a constructive way, suggesting the main focus must be the finalisation of the Withdrawal Agreement.
“Let me recall that the Withdrawal Agreement is the prerequisite for an orderly withdrawal, for the transition period, and for creating the trust that we need to build a solid partnership for the future” – Barnier said.
The border issue between Ireland and Northern Ireland is in first ranks, Barnier continued, because Europe is committed to protect Ireland and Northern Ireland against the consequences of Brexit and to preserve the Good Friday Agreement in all its dimensions.
“Let me simply recall the commitment taken by Prime Minister Theresa May to have a backstop in her letter to President Tusk in March. The respect of this commitment is essential” – Barnier reminded. He also made clear to Dominic Raab that “we are not asking for a border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK. What we need is checks on goods because the UK wants to leave the Single Market, the Customs Union and our common commercial policy”.
Barnier pointed out that the time is running out, asking UK to continue working on issues without pause.
“We are open to any solutions as long as they are workable and can be transformed into a legally operative text in time for the Withdrawal Agreement”.
However, he underlined that it is also EU27 responsibility to be prepared for all scenarios, including a “no deal”, quoting the European Council request to be prepared for for “all scenarios”.
“We are encouraging national administrations and companies to use the time we have, which is very short, to accelerate this preparation” – Barnier concluded.