The European Union’s chief negotiator for the United Kingdom’s departure from the bloc has announced that Brussels is ready to compromise on the thorny issue of the Irish border to help the two sides avoid a so-called no-deal Brexit.
“We are ready to improve the text of our proposal with the UK,” Michel Barnier said on Thursday in a major development in disputes regarding the future of the border between EU member Ireland and the UK province of Northern Ireland, according to the Daily Express.
The EU has already proposed that there should be a backstop mechanism for regulating trade and other issues on the border when Britain leaves the EU. The British government has rejected the idea saying Northern Ireland would be “annexed” if it is to remain in a common regulatory area for goods and customs with the rest of the EU, as it is proposed in the backstop plan.
“What the EU has proposed is that Northern Ireland remains in a common regulatory area for goods and customs with the rest of the EU,” said Barnier, adding that the EU was ready to make compromises on its plan to satisfy London.
Barnier said the issue of the Irish border would be “the biggest risk” caused by Brexit while reiterating that both Britain and the EU agreed that they could replaced the backstop mechanism with a better solution in future.
Barneir’s remarks come amid increasing uncertainty over how Britain would leave the EU by March 2019 and whether there would be a binding agreement between the two sides or Britain would simply crash out, leaving trade and many other issues unregulated.
Barnier had earlier rejected a proposal by British Prime Minister Theresa May on the Irish border which came last month as part of the premier’s controversial white paper for final Brexit talks. Barnier had said that a dual system of taxes enforced on either side of the border, as proposed by May, would simply not work.
The turn of events in Brussels comes days after British authorities called on EU powers Germany and France to intervene in Brexit talks and ensure that a deal could come out of the negotiations.