Juncker tells MEPs the Irish border is a “European issue”



“It is obvious that we need further clarity from the United Kingdom if we are to reach an understanding on our future relationship”, Juncker said.

Other MEPs used the plenary session to put forward their stance on the UK’s departure from the EU.

This prompted an angry response from UKIP MEP David Coburn, who retoted that it was a “British issue”.

Responding to their applause, Juncker said the time would come “when you will regret your decision”.

THE PRESIDENT OF the European Commission has said that there should be no hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland that the Good Friday Agreement should be “preserved in all its dimensions” following Brexit.

Mr Juncker said the controversial Brussels legal text demanding full regulatory alignment between Northern Ireland and the European Union “should not come as a surprise” to the UK.

Jean Claude Juncker told MEPs in the Parliament that the backstop option represented a what was agreed before between the European Union and Theresa May in December. “It is all for one and one for all – that is what it means to be part of this union”, he said.

The EU and Britain are hoping to seal a deal this month on a transition period after Brexit, and start talks on their future relationship this spring.

Brussels’ chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said May’s decision to leave the single market and customs union was “closing doors” to possible models of future co-operation.

“It’s a rather surprising idea to think the European Union 27… could accept convergence when the United Kingdom wants it and at the same time leave the possibility for divergence where there is a comparative advantage to be had”, Barnier told MEPs.

“When the British people voted to leave, they voted to take back control”.

“Through our Group’s (GUE/NGL) membership of the Brexit Steering Group we have been able to shape this resolution in order to address the concerns around the border and citizens rights”.

The agreement would be based around four “pillars” – trade, foreign policy and security cooperation, internal security and “thematic” cooperation, which includes education and research programmes.

Delivering a damning verdict on May’s speech, the Parliament’s Brexit coordinator Guy Verhofstadt said, “It is mainly repeating the red lines that we know already two years”.

Barnier also urged British Prime Minister Theresa May to speed up the Brexit negotiations and define her vision for the future relationship between the country and the 27 remaining member states.

“We will keep making this point in the run-up to the European Council next week”, Juncker told the European Parliament.”We are expecting more clarity on the American side in the coming days and will continue to work with our partners to push for an exemption”.

“We are open for business”. But Barnier said it dealt with the realities on the ground.

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