The Irish border is continuing to cause delays for the Brexit negotiation process, with both the EU and UK struggling to make sufficient progress in time for next week’s summit. EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and Theresa may are currently in talks, and opposition to a deal of the Irish Border from the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) is making it difficult for either side to come to an agreement.
Both Juncker and May have said that they still need to finalise the details on several issues before the next phase of negotiations can begin. Juncker said “Despite our best efforts and significant progress we and our teams have made over the past days on the three main withdrawal issues, it was not possible to reach a complete agreement today”
May said that “On a couple of issues some differences remain, which require further negotiations and consultations.” Both sides remain optimistic that a deal can be reached before the summit, with Juncker adding that “I’m still confident we can reach sufficient progress before the European Council of the 15 December. This is not a failure.”
Although there are several issues still to be resolved in the talks, the main priority is still the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic. It’s of high importance to both sides to avoid a hard border due to the island’s history of sectarian violence.
However, DUP leader Arlene Foster has said this week that the DUP will be opposed to an agreement that would give Northern Ireland different EU terms to the rest of the UK, commenting that “We will not accept any form of regulatory divergence which separates Northern Ireland economically or politically from the UK. The economic and political integrity of the UK must not be compromised.”
The Republic also wants to see some guarantee that Northern Ireland will follow some EU regulations in order to maintain their current good relationship. In a meeting between MEP’s and Juncker, the UK has confirmed that it’s looking to keep EU regulations for Northern Ireland, and is looking for a suitable deal to accommodate that.
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has also commented that she would be looking for a similar deal to Northern Ireland, saying that “If one part of UK can retain regulatory alignment with EU and effectively stay in the single market (which is the right solution for Northern Ireland) there is surely no good practical reason why others can’t.”
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan also commented that:”Huge ramifications for London if Theresa May has conceded that it’s possible for part of the U.K. to remain within the single market & customs union after Brexit. Londoners overwhelmingly voted to remain in the EU and a similar deal here could protect tens of thousands of jobs”
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