Wednesday 22 November 2017

EU must avoid 'negative consequences' on the Border with the North in a post-Brexit deal – Italian Foreign Minister

Paolo Gentiloni. Photo by Silvia Lore/NurPhoto via Getty Images
Paolo Gentiloni. Photo by Silvia Lore/NurPhoto via Getty Images
John Downing

John Downing

The EU has an obligation to avoid “negative consequences” for the Border with the North in a new post-Brexit era, the Italian Foreign Minister has said.

Paola Gentiloni told reporters that he believed there could no question of changing the British-Irish common travel area in the wake of UK voters’ decision on June 23 to leave the European Union.

The Italian minister added that the border with the North was a “Euroepan problem.” But he stressed that all of the EU had a duty to avoid “negative consequences” in any new frontier arrangements between Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Mr Gentiloni was speaking during a visit to Dublin today when he held talks with his Irish counterpart, Foreign Affairs Minister, Charlie Flanagan, who thanked the Italian Government for their ongoing support.

Asked about the consequences of the British vote, the Italian Foreign Minister said the UK remained an important friend of Italy with common membership of the NATO defence alliance; and the G7 and G20 economic groups of nations.

Mr Gentiloni said Italy wanted an orderly transition to a new EU-UK relationship .

“We can’t leave room for a domino effect or a European Union á la carte,” the Minister said. No country could have a tailor-made relationship with the EU.

Asked about a potential “special case” for Ireland in Brexit arrangements, the Italian Foreign Minister said the British-Irish common travel area pre-dated the establishment of the European Union by several decades.

“It is an issue between Ireland and the United Kingdom. It is not an EU issue,” he said.

On the border with the North, he acknowledged that it was an EU issue – not something which can be resolved between Dublin and London alone.

“I consider the commitment to avoid negative consequences on the borders between Ireland and Northern Ireland as a European problem. I think that it is a concern for all of Europe to avoid negative consequences in this particular aspect,” the Italian Foreign Minister said.

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