4th All Ireland Civic Dialogue on Brexit
Leo Varadkar, the Irish Taoiseach, and Simon Coveny, Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, hosted the 4th All-Island Civic Dialogue
on Brexit. The guest speaker was the EU’s Chief Negotiator on Brexit, Michel Barnier. Causeway Chamber president Anthony Newman represented the Causeway
Chamber at the All Island Civic Dialogue on 30th April 2018
The event hosted in Dundalk is the first plenary meeting to be heard in a border region.
The backstop would mean that in the absence of any other solution, Northern Ireland, or the UK as a whole, would align with EU rules required to support north-south cooperation and an all-island economy.
Mr Barnier's three points were:
1.The UK government has agreed to a backstop and knows that without it there is no withdrawal agreement
2.The EU is not using the backstop as a negotiating tactic
3.The backstop is necessary to protect the integrity of the customs union and single market
While in principle the UK signed up to this option, precise detail on it has yet to appear.
He said that the Backstop agreement was not any preferred option, but it is up to the UK government to propose alternative solutions and as of yet nothing had been proposed by Westminister.
He said that without an agreement about the border, there would not be withdrawal agreement.
Whilst Mr Barnier said that this was not a negotiation tactic, Mr Varadkar did say that if the UK did soften their red lines regarding the customs union and the single market the EU would soften theirs. That sounded very much like a negotiation tactic!
They said that there needs to be agreement by the end of June on the Ireland issue.
Mr Barnier’s best sound bite came in response to a question of how he felt the negotiations were going “I’m not an optimist. I’m not a pessimist. I’m just determined.”
Read the BBC report here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-43949962