Credible answers on Irish border issue needed in Brexit talks - Simon Coveney
Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney has said there is a still "a way to go" in negotiations between Britain and the European Union before enough progress on Irish issues has been made to move on to the next phase of Brexit talks.
"I think that there is a way to go between the two negotiating teams to be able to provide credible answers and sufficient progress in the context of the Irish border before we can move on to Phase Two," Minister Coveney told RTE's Morning Ireland on Friday.
The EU has said that talks on Britain's future relationship can only start after the EU is satisfied that "sufficient progress" has been made on the terms of Britain’s departure, including on Britain’s border with Ireland.
"While we welcome the language we get from the British government in the context of north-south challenges... there has always been a scepticism on how we are going to get there in the context of the British approach to Brexit as a whole," he said.
In an interview with the Financial Times earlier this week, Mr Coveney said it was "not realistic" to agree upon a UK-EU free-trade deal next year, despite the intention voiced by Theresa May.
An outcome "that is good for the British economy and Irish economy and the EU economy . . . requires a sensible and pragmatic approach towards a transition arrangement. For me, that’s closer to four or five years rather than two," Mr Coveney told the paper.
Theresa May has already formally requested what an implementation period of "about two years" to soften the blow of Britain’s exit from the EU in March 2019.
During this transition period, the UK would stay in the single market and customs union.