Friday

1st Jul 2022

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".

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

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.

Interview

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.

Opinion

Nato's Madrid summit — key takeaways

For the most part Nato and its 30 leaders rose to the occasion — but it wasn't without room for improvement. The lesson remains that Nato still doesn't know how or want to hold allies accountable for disruptive behaviour.

Column

One rubicon after another

We realise that we are living in one of those key moments in history, with events unfolding exactly the way Swiss art historian Jacob Burckhardt describes them: a sudden crisis, rushing everything into overdrive.

News in Brief

  1. EU Parliament 'photographs protesting interpreters'
  2. Poland still failing to meet EU judicial criteria
  3. Report: Polish president fishing for UN job
  4. Auditors raise alarm on EU Commission use of consultants
  5. Kaliningrad talks needed with Russia, says Polish PM
  6. Report: EU to curb state-backed foreign takeovers
  7. EU announces trade deal with New Zealand
  8. Russia threatens Norway over goods transit

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers write to EU about new food labelling
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersEmerging journalists from the Nordics and Canada report the facts of the climate crisis
  3. Council of the EUEU: new rules on corporate sustainability reporting
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers for culture: Protect Ukraine’s cultural heritage!
  5. Reuters InstituteDigital News Report 2022
  6. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBHow price increases affect construction workers

Latest News

  1. Nato's Madrid summit — key takeaways
  2. Czech presidency to fortify EU embrace of Ukraine
  3. Covid-profiting super rich should fight hunger, says UN food chief
  4. EU pollution and cancer — it doesn't have to be this way
  5. Israel smeared Palestinian activists, EU admits
  6. MEPs boycott awards over controversial sponsorship
  7. If Russia collapses — which states will break away?
  8. EU Parliament interpreters stage strike

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us