07/02/2019

Taoiseach's Brussels Visit: No Renegotiation Of Brexit Deal

The EU has restated its firm position on the UK's divorce deal as non-negotiable.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar was in Brussels for further Brexit talks with senior EU officials this week, in a bid to consolidate support for the current proposal and ramp up plans for a no-deal scenario.

It comes as the UK Government has voted to seek changes to the agreement, mainly the Irish backstop, and Prime Minister Theresa May has travelled to Brussels to advocate for legal amendments.

Following the delegation, the Taoiseach released a joint statement with President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker, emphasising their hard-line position that the Withdrawal Agreement is the only proposal on the table.

"It is not open for renegotiation," they stated.

"The backstop is an integral part of the Withdrawal Agreement. While we hope the backstop will not need to be used, it is a necessary legal guarantee to protect peace and to ensure there will be no return to a hard border on the island of Ireland, while protecting the integrity of our Single Market and the Customs Union.

"The Withdrawal Agreement, including the backstop, is a balanced compromise, representing a good outcome for citizens and businesses on all sides, including in Northern Ireland.

"The backstop is not a bilateral issue, but a European one. Ireland's border is also the border of the European Union and its market is part of the Single Market. We will stay united on this matter."

The officials added that they also plan to "step up" preparations for a no-deal Brexit.

"In this context, programmes that provide support for cross-border peace and reconciliation in the border counties of Ireland and Northern Ireland will be continued and strengthened.

"The Commission stands ready to support Ireland in finding solutions answering the specific challenges that Ireland and Irish citizens, farmers and businesses will face. We will work closely together to this end over the coming weeks. We will continue to remind the Government of the United Kingdom of its responsibilities under the Good Friday Agreement, with or without a deal."



(JG/CM)

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