EU Parliament Threatens to Veto Brexit Deal over UK’s Northern Ireland Border
The Brexit Steering Group of the European Parliament has declared that its preparedness to veto an EU – UK deal on Brexit if it does not include “a viable backstop” for the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
The Parliament of the EU has thus upped the stakes of the Brexit negotiations – its Brexit Steering Group (BSG) points out that the institution as a whole “will have the final say on the outcome” of the Brexit talks as it can approve or reject the potential EU – UK deal.
In a statement released on Friday, the BSG makes it clear it had been informed about the Brexit negotiations from during the past couple of weeks, and had followed the statements of the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier and members of the British government.
It insists that any future arrangements for a close relationship between the UK and the EU, and even post-Brexit transitional arrangements could be based only on a withdrawal agreement, and not on a no-deal Brexit.
The EP body chaired by the Parliament’s Brexit coordinator Guy Verhofstadt also explicitly demands that the UK make good on its commitment for a backstop for the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
“The BSG reiterates that in relation to the Withdrawal Agreement it will accept no backsliding from past commitments, notably those entered into in the Joint Report of 8 December 2017. To conclude the WA it is essential, in particular, that it includes a “backstop” for the Northern Ireland/Ireland border,” the MEPs state.
They point out that the “backstop” must avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland, protect the Good Friday Agreement, and safeguard the integrity of the single market, customs union and common commercial policy – conditions recognized by British Prime Minister Theresa May in her letter to European Council President Donald Tusk sent on March 19, 2018.
“In this the backstop remains specific to the unique circumstances of the island of Ireland and, in conformity with the terms of Article 50 TEU, cannot establish the terms of the future relationship between the European Union and the United Kingdom,” the BSG says.
It urges London not to put off any longer “coming forward with its own, workable and legally operative proposal for a ‘backstop’”.
“The BSG stresses that without a credible, genuine and operational “backstop”, it will be impossible for the European Parliament to give its consent to the [Brexit] Withdrawal Agreement,” the MEPs declare.
The BSG concludes its statement by reiterating “its longstanding support for the closest possible trade, economic and security partnership, in the form of an Association Agreement” between the EU and the UK after Brexit.
However, it still insists that the future relationship between Britain and Europe must be compatible with the four freedoms of the EU, the integrity of the single market, the autonomy of the EU legal order and decision making, the safeguarding of financial stability and the need to respect a proper balance of rights and obligations.
The Brexit Steering Group of the European Parliament is going to reassess the negotiations before the institutions plenary session in September.
British diplomats have confirmed that they currently have no plans to come up with extra proposals to prevent a border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, The Independent reports.
They had hoped that Prime Minister Theresa May’s controversial Brexit blueprint, the controversial White Paper of the British government, and a temporary customs arrangement would together be acceptable to the EU.
However, May’s Chequers White Paper on Brexit has already been met with criticism by the EU. Meanwhile, the May has stated that “no UK prime minister” could accept a backstop for the Irish – Irish border.
May relies for her majority in the British House of Commons on the Democratic Unionist Party of Northern Ireland which restricts her room for maneuvers on the issue.
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