#Brexit – A proposal to leave Ireland’s border to future negotiations ‘just won’t fly’ says Coveney 

| August 30, 2019

Irish Tanaiste Simon Coveney meeting EU Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier, 21 January 2019

Arriving for the Informal (Gymnich) meeting of Foreign Ministers on 30 August, Irish Tánaiste Simon Coveney said that he would be happy for the UK to meet the EU five days a week if necessary, in response to a question about the UK’s announcement that it would be negotiating two days per week in Brussels, writes Catherine Feore

Coveney asserted that everyone wanted to agree on a deal that the UK and the EU can accept, adding that no one wants this to happen more than the Irish. He stressed that Ireland’s ambition is to have good relations with the UK in the future, particularly given its shared responsibility as co-guarantor of the Good Friday Agreement.  

Changes must be consistent with the Withdrawal Agreement 

Coveney emphasized that the current withdrawal agreement allows for a transition period “that gives us the time and space to work out a future relationship”. He insisted that any agreement must be consistent with the withdrawal agreement and if the UK wanted to remove any element it would have to propose alternatives that would solve the problems that would be createdWhat would not be accepted by Ireland or EU partners, according to Coveney, would be a promise that they will do their best to solve the problems created but not explain how.  

Credible alternatives 

On the willingness to negotiate, he added that Michel Barnier and his team were there for that purpose, and he lamented that “nothing credible has come from the British government in the context of an alternative to the backstop, a proposal to leave solutions to future discussions just won’t fly”. 

Good Friday Agreement vs Single Market 

Asked about what was more important to Irelandthe Good Friday Agreement or the integrity of the EU’s single market, Coveney replied that the beauty of the withdrawal agreement is that both are accommodated in the current agreement and that is why it took two years to negotiate. He argued that the current agreement guaranteed Ireland’s place in the EU Single Market while also respecting the UKs decision to leave the European Union. 


Asked about the prorogation of the UK Parliament, Coveney said that he’s always been very careful not to comment on internal British politics and the management of arrangements in Westminster and that it was a matter for the parliament and government to collectively resolve.  

In the meantime, the EU’s Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier has been visiting heads of government and senior EU-27 ministers to update them on the situation. In the past fortnight, he has met with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, Danish Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod and Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki.

Morawiecki said he looks forward to constructive and realistic proposals from London, saying that both creativity and unity would be needed. Kofod expressed Denmark’s commitment to protecting the Good Friday Agreement, EU-27 solidarity and integrity of the single market. Rutte reiterated that any deal will have to respect EU principles; while all hoped for a deal, they recognized the need for preparedness for a ‘no deal’ scenario. 


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Category: A Frontpage, Brexit, Economy, EU, EU, European Commission, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Politics, UK

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