EU calls for Ireland to remain in Single Market and Customs Union to avoid hard border.


A working paper has been published by the EU requesting that the Island of Ireland remains within the single market and customs union.

The paper says that in order to avoid a hard border it is essential that there is no difference in rules for either side of the border. 

It also explicitly spells out the fact that to avoid a hard border will take more than technical arrangements as favoured by the British Government: NI must be within the single market. 

The question of protecting the Good Friday agreement is also addressed; Both the UK and the EU named this as a priority. 

The Irish Foreign Affairs Minister, Simon Coveney, said that talk of individual countries vetoing a move to the next stage of negotiations is "unhelpful" but progress still had to be made on the border issue.
"I think that there is a way to go between the two negotiating teams to be able to provide credible answers and sufficient progress in the context of the Irish border before we can move on to Phase Two," he told Irish state broadcaster, RTE. 
A spokesman for the UK's department for leaving the EU said that the government is committed to avoiding a hard border. 
"We recognise that the solutions to the unique circumstances in Northern Ireland must respect the integrity of the EU single market and customs union.
"But they must also respect the integrity of the United Kingdom."
"The government is determined to find specific solutions to Northern Ireland's unique circumstances, not least as the only part of the UK to share a land border with an EU member state."

The Commission document will place more pressure on the Conservative government given its reliance on the DUP for survival.

Northern Ireland remaining inside the customs union and single market, while the rest of the UK was outside, would impose an entirely new structure on the United Kingdom.


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