24th Mar 2018

UK wants EU trade deal before resolving Irish border

  • Dublin has threatened to veto EU and UK trade talks (Photo: Giuseppe Milo)

The UK wants an EU trade agreement before resolving a border issue with Ireland.

Liam Fox, the UK's international trade secretary, told Sky News on Sunday (26 November) that the border debate will have to wait "until we get an idea of the end state".

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

The comments follow a 10-day EU deadline for Britain to make "sufficient progress" on Brexit negotiations, including Ireland, before trade talks can begin.

"We don't want there to be a hard border but the UK is going to be leaving the customs union and the single market," said Fox.

He noted that the UK was ready to make exceptions for Ireland to resolve the dilemma.

EU leaders and heads of state are to decide at a summit in Brussels on 14 December on whether Brexit talks have progressed enough to move onto the trade phase.

Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom and shares a 500-km border with the Republic of Ireland.

The fear is that passport checks and other border obstacles and controls will reappear once the UK leaves the European Union in 2019 as Ireland remains an EU member state. Such barriers were removed following the 1998 Good Friday peace accord.

Ireland is demanding that the border remains open to maintain trade relations and keep the peace amid threats to veto the next phase of Brexit talks at the December summit.

Last week, Ireland's foreign minister Simon Coveney said UK "aspirations" against border check fall short of the needed "credible road map" to advance talks onto the next stage.

"We are not going to allow a border to re-emerge on the island of Ireland," he added.

Ireland's European commissioner Phil Hogan also weighed in on the matter.

He told the Observer over the weekend that the border issue would be resolved by having the UK or Northern Ireland remain a part of the single market and customs union.

"If the UK or Northern Ireland remained in the EU customs union, or better still the single market, there would be no border issue," he said.

He said London's hope of securing future free-trade agreements (FTA) was based on "blind faith".

"The best possible FTA with the EU will fall far short of being in the single market," he said.

But the pro-Brexit Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) in Northern Ireland says it will not accept any deal that is different from the rest of the UK. The DUP, which is the key ally to Britain's Conservative minority government, says Northern Ireland and the UK will have to operate under the same rules following Brexit.

The stand off has emerged as one of the trickiest issues between the EU and the UK negotiators.

It also comes amid a police whistle-blowing scandal in Ireland that risks triggering new general elections.

UK has 10 days to make Brexit progress

British prime minister Theresa May was told to make progress on the financial settlement, and Ireland, before talks can move to the next phase.

Irish crisis may complicate Brexit summit

Snap elections are on the horizon in Ireland over the future of Irish PM's right-hand woman, three weeks before Irish PM is due in Brussels for a crucial Brexit vote.

Tusk: 'Getting closer' to a Brexit deal

A deal is within reach beween the EU and UK on Brexit, as leaders in Dublin and London seemed to have clinched an agreement on the thorny issue of the Irish border.


Irish border 'crucial' for EU, says Dutch PM

Irish border will be key element in the decision on second phase of Brexit talks, but EU leaders will follow assessment of chief negotiator Barnier.

EU data chiefs rally behind UK over Cambridge Analytica

EU leaders at a Brussels summit demand social networks and digital platforms guarantee transparency and privacy. Their call comes amid growing backlash against Facebook and Cambridge Analytica over voter manipulation.

'Decisive step' in Brexit ahead of EU summit

The UK and the EU have reached a legal agreement on citizens' rights and the financial settlement, but with still little progress on the future of the Irish border.

News in Brief

  1. EU wants 'Paris' climate strategy within 13 months
  2. Workload of EU court remains high
  3. Spain's supreme court charges Catalan separatist leaders
  4. EU calls for 'permanent' exemption from US tariffs
  5. Summit backs guidelines for future EU-UK talks
  6. Macron support drops as public sector workers go on strike
  7. EU leaders condemn Turkey for illegal actions in Aegean Sea
  8. Parliament must publish 'trilogue' documents, court says

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EUobserverStart a Career in EU Media. Apply Now to Become Our Next Sales Associate
  2. EUobserverHiring - Finance Officer With Accounting Degree or Experience - Apply Now!
  3. ECR GroupAn Opportunity to Help Shape a Better Future for Europe
  4. Counter BalanceControversial Turkish Azerbaijani Gas Pipeline Gets Major EU Loan
  5. World VisionSyria’s Children ‘At Risk of Never Fully Recovering', New Study Finds
  6. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMeets with US Congress Member to Denounce Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  7. Martens CentreEuropean Defence Union: Time to Aim High?
  8. UNESDAWatch UNESDA’s President Toast Its 60th Anniversary Year
  9. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Condemns MEP Ana Gomes’s Anti-Semitic Remark, Calls for Disciplinary Action
  10. EPSUEU Commissioners Deny 9.8 Million Workers Legal Minimum Standards on Information Rights
  11. ACCAAppropriate Risk Management is Crucial for Effective Strategic Leadership
  12. EPSUWill the Circular Economy be an Economy With no Workers?

Latest News

  1. Nordic states discuss targeted Russia sanctions
  2. Commission sticks to its line on Barroso case
  3. Germany and France promise new Russia sanctions
  4. EU rejects US trade 'gun to the head'
  5. Tariffs and Turkey will top This WEEK
  6. EU leaders roll over Brexit talks amid Trump and Russia fears
  7. Europe needs corporate tax reform - a digital tax isn't it
  8. EU data chiefs rally behind UK over Cambridge Analytica