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EU seeks 'flexible and creative' solutions for Ireland to avoid hard border, protect peace process

 

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Britain’s ambassador to the EU Tim Barrow delivers British Prime Minister Theresa May’s formal notice of the UK’s intention to leave the bloc under Article 50 of the EU’s Lisbon Treaty to European Council President Donald Tusk in Brussels Photo: AFP/Getty

Britain’s ambassador to the EU Tim Barrow delivers British Prime Minister Theresa May’s formal notice of the UK’s intention to leave the bloc under Article 50 of the EU’s Lisbon Treaty to European Council President Donald Tusk in Brussels Photo: AFP/Getty

AFP/Getty Images

Britain’s ambassador to the EU Tim Barrow delivers British Prime Minister Theresa May’s formal notice of the UK’s intention to leave the bloc under Article 50 of the EU’s Lisbon Treaty to European Council President Donald Tusk in Brussels Photo: AFP/Getty

The European Union will seek “flexible and creative” solutions to avoid a hard border, European Council President Donald Tusk has pledged.

Mr Tusk said this will be of crucial importance to support the peace process.

Mr Tusk published the EU’s draft guidelines for the Brexit negotiation today, which signals backing by Brussels for a continuation of the Common Travel Area.

The protection of the peace process, the need to avoid a hard border, and the recognition of bilateral agreements between Ireland and the UK have all been flagged in the EU's document.

"We will seek flexible and creative solutions aiming at avoiding a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland. It is of crucial importance to support the peace process in Northern Ireland," Mr Tusk said.

In the nine page document, one paragraph is focused exclusively on Ireland.

It states that in view of the “unique circumstances” on the island of Ireland, “flexible and imaginative” solutions will be required, including to avoid a hard border.

The document also states that the EU should recognise existing bilateral agreements between the UK and Ireland which are compatible with EU law – suggesting support for maintaining the Common Travel Area.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny said earlier this week that he was confident that Ireland’s interests would be reflected in the document.

Reference to Ireland and its “unique circumstances” will be of relief to the Government, after a mammoth diplomatic drive over the last nine months flagging up the issues around European capitals.

Online Editors