BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Failure to agree a “backstop” mechanism on Northern Ireland’s land border with the European Union has thwarted hopes of a Brexit deal this week. This is what it’s and why it issues:
BOTH SIDES WANT TO AVOID A “HARD BORDER” – WHAT’S THAT?
In 1998, Britain and Ireland made the Good Friday settlement to finish 30 years of violence in Northern Ireland over whether or not it ought to keep British or be part of the Irish republic to the south. That ended controls alongside the 500-km (300-mile) land border and arrange all-Ireland guidelines and establishments that make Northern Ireland particular throughout the United Kingdom. Brexit means the north additionally leaving the EU, attainable new checks alongside the border and completely different commerce guidelines that might inflame tensions as soon as extra.
SO THE SOLUTION IS…?
British Prime Minister Theresa May says a particular customs and commerce association with the EU, to be negotiated throughout a 20-month status-quo transition interval, will guarantee seamless borders between the entire of the United Kingdom and EU — so there will probably be no want for intrusive checks on items on the Irish border.
THAT SOUNDS FAIR – SO WHAT’S THE CATCH?
The Irish government, backed by the remainder of the EU, desires an insurance coverage coverage in case these future commerce talks fail.
AND THAT INSURANCE POLICY IS WHAT?
Early this yr, EU negotiator Michel Barnier proposed that, if a greater answer involving the entire UK just isn’t found earlier than the top of transition in 2020, Northern Ireland alone would successfully stay within the EU financial house “unless and until” there’s a higher answer.
BUT BRITAIN OBJECTS, RIGHT?
Yes. May and her very important allies in a pro-British Belfast get together reject any commerce limitations between two components of the UK. Northern Irish unionists worry it might push the province towards a merger with the republic. Britain prompt making use of a backstop customs deal to the mainland too. Brussels dismissed that as a dodge to get British items into the only market by a again door.
SO WHAT HAPPENED AT THE WEEKEND?
EU negotiators tried to take the sting out of the backstop by stressing it would by no means be triggered, checks on intra-UK commerce can be discreet and transition might be prolonged by a yr to Dec. 31, 2021 to present extra time to clinch an EU-UK commerce deal which might hold the Irish border absolutely open anyway.
British negotiators insisted everlasting EU-UK customs association was the reply — a place EU officers see as protecting the UK within the EU customs union however utilizing a unique identify as a result of May and plenty of of her allies have dominated that out.
The EU response was that such a customs union is feasible however it may well solely be negotiated and agreed after Brexit and in any case not within the subsequent few weeks — therefore the EU demand legally binding backstop within the withdrawal treaty should stay.
Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab flew in to substantiate the deadlock with EU negotiator Michel Barnier on Sunday night — and in addition raised new issues that EU negotiators thought had been settled.
AND WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
May is sounding out her allies forward of a visit to Brussels from Wednesday to Friday for summits with EU and Asian EU ministers meet in Luxembourg on Tuesday to arrange the agenda for a dinner of the opposite 27 EU leaders in Brussels on Wednesday. leaders. Barnier will transient them and the leaders, additionally taking account of any new indicators from May, will take a view on how greatest to proceed on Brexit — notably on whether or not to step up talks on future EU-UK commerce and on whether or not to step up preparations for a “no deal”.
Further talks on future relations, meant to agree a non-binding declaration of intent to accompany the Brexit treaty, had been conditional on progress on the withdrawal settlement. Some states, notably France, are arguing that May should be put beneath extra strain on the summit to drop her objections.