Sunday

18th Nov 2018

Ireland comes first, and no financial services, Tusk tells UK

  • Leo Varadkar (l) and Donald Tusk, during the EU Council president's visit to Ireland (Photo: Consilium)

Ireland will come first in negotiations over Brexit and the EU-UK long term relationship, European Council president Donald Tusk said Thursday, while insisting it is not up to the UK to define the EU's interests.

"We also expect the UK to propose a specific and realistic solution to avoid a hard border" between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, Tusk said in Dublin after a meeting with Irish prime minister Leo Varadkar.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

"As long as the UK doesn't present such a solution, it is very difficult to imagine substantive progress in Brexit negotiations.

Last week, Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier presented an EU draft legal text for the withdrawal and the transition. On Wednesday, Tusk unveiled the draft guidelines for the future relationship.



But both negotiations depend on an agreement over the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

"If in London someone assumes that the negotiations will deal with other issues first, before moving to the Irish issue, my response would be: Ireland first," Tusk warned in Dublin.

So far, Tusk noted, the UK has rejected a customs and regulatory border down the Irish Sea, in addition to its intention to leave the EU single market and the customs union.

Speaking along the European Council chief, Varadkar said that he was waiting for "further detailed progress to be put forward" by his UK counterpart Theresa May.



He warned that if the UK did not "translate into legal terms the principle and guarantees agreed in December" to avoid a hard border, there should be "a backstop of maintaining full alignment in Northern Ireland" with the rules of the single market and custom unions.

Tusk also dashed UK's hope to include financial services in the future relation agreement, as demanded by UK's chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond on Wednesday.

'Services are not about tariffs'

Hammond had said that it was "hard to see how any deal that did not include services could look like a fair and balanced settlement."

"We should all be clear that also when it comes to financial services, life will be different after Brexit," Tusk said.

He explained that the EU "can offer trade in goods" but not in services, because "services are not about tariffs. Services are about common rules, common supervision, and common enforcement."

He added that for the EU, the issue was about ensuring a level playing field, the integrity of the single market, "and ultimately also to ensure financial stability."

"I fully respect the chancellor's competence in defining what's in the UK's interest. I would, however, ask to allow us to define what's in the EU's interest," he said about Hammond's demands.

Britain wants uniquely deep deal with EU

The UK prime minister's third speech on Brexit was the clearest yet on what she wants after Brexit, but still lacked new ideas on resolving some differences, especially on Northern Ireland.

'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. US warns EU banks and firms against trading with Iran
  2. Merkel urged Romania not to move embassy to Jerusalem
  3. Protesters call for Czech leader to step down
  4. Former German chancellor labelled 'enemy' of Ukraine
  5. French lead opposition to Brexit deal on fisheries
  6. Private accounts of Danske Bank employees investigated
  7. UK's May defends Brexit deal to MPs, after ministers resign
  8. Brexit MP calls for 'no confidence' vote on May

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  5. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  6. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  7. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  8. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  9. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  10. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  12. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs

Latest News

  1. Brexit dominates EU affairs This WEEK
  2. How the EU commission got tunnel vision on self-driving cars
  3. No-confidence calls against May put Brexit deal in doubt
  4. Key points of the Brexit deal (if it ever comes into effect)
  5. Romania heaps scorn on 'revolting' EU criticism
  6. US steps in to clean up Cyprus
  7. 'Decisive progress' on Brexit as British cabinet backs deal
  8. Asylum for Macedonia's ex-PM puts Orban on spot

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us