We welcome the fact that the UK has tabled formal proposals on 2 October. As President Juncker has noted, the move towards full regulatory alignment of goods for Northern Ireland is a good step.
However, any alternative to the backstop must meet all of its objectives. It must protect the Good Friday Agreement in all its parts, avoiding a hard border, including any physical infrastructure and related checks and controls, protecting North-South cooperation and the all-island economy, and protecting the integrity of the EU’s Single Market and Customs Union and Ireland’s place within in this framework. The UK’s proposals as tabled with the Commission Taskforce on 2 October, do not meet all of these objectives.
It is deeply disappointing that the British Government have stepped back from their commitments of December 2017. Equally, the UK’s new stance on the future relationship, and their rejection of level-playing field issues, makes things more problematic.
Ireland and the EU want a deal – but it is very clear that any deal must respect the EU’s core objectives. This was reconfirmed by EU Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier at our last meeting.
The Commission is continuing its examination of the UK proposals, and their discussions with the UK are ongoing in Brussels to clarify elements of the proposals. We hope that the UK engages constructively with Michel Barnier and his team to narrow the gap between the EU and UK positions notably in areas such as customs arrangements, governance proposals and protecting the delicate balance of the Good Friday Agreement.