Sunday 18 March 2018

UK has provided 'no definitive response' to border issue - Jean-Claude Juncker

Jean-Claude Juncker (AP)
Jean-Claude Juncker (AP)
Colm Kelpie

Colm Kelpie

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has accused the British of providing “no definitive response” to the border issue post Brexit.

As day two of the latest round of Brexit negotiations got underway, Mr Juncker told a gathering of EU ambassadors in Brussels that the UK’s Brexit position papers to date were not satisfactory, and that there were still “enormous” issues to be settled.

Just a day after EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier urged his British counterpart to “start negotiating seriously”, Mr Juncker echoed the bloc’s refusal to discuss the future free trade deal London wants before pencilling in terms for it leaving the EU.

“I would like to be clear that I did read with the requisite attention all the papers produced by Her Majesty’s government, and none of those is actually satisfactory,” Mr Juncker said.

“So there’s still an enormous amount of issues which remain to be settled.”

Read More: None of UK Government's Brexit position papers satisfactory - Jean-Claude Juncker

EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier Photo: Reuters
EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier Photo: Reuters

Talks resumed yesterday amid continued divisions over how much Britain must pay. Issues involving Ireland, including the Good Friday Agreement and the Common Travel Area, are expected to be discussed tomorrow.

“Problems regarding Ireland and Northern Ireland, which are very serious problems, in respect of which we’ve had no definitive response,” Mr Juncker said.

“But we also have the status of European citizens living in the UK and UK citizens living in the Continent”.

Read More: Coveney urges NI businesses to lobby MPs for a soft Brexit, warning that Ireland cannot stay quiet

He said there was a need to be “crystal clear” that negotiations on the new post Brexit relationship, particularly the economic and trade relationship, would not be carried out before issues relating to financial obligations, citizens rights and Ireland are dealt with.

“We cannot mix these issues up,” he said. “ know that there are some partial overlapping between issues, but the European Council following up on the Commission’s proposal has been crystal clear. First of all we settle the past before we look forward to the future.”

British Prime Minister Theresa May. Picture: Getty
British Prime Minister Theresa May. Picture: Getty

Financial newswire Bloomberg reported that the UK has asked for more Brexit negotiating sessions, as the latest round of talks showed little sign of progress amid criticism on each side.

There are just two more rounds scheduled before a summit in October when EU leaders are due to assess whether enough progress has been made to allow the UK to start trade discussions.

A spokeswoman for UK Prime Minister Theresa May said that Britain feels it is in a good position in the talks and wants to agree to move on to discussions about its future relationship by October.

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