14/12/2018

Leo Varadkar: EU United On Need To Maintain Backstop

Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar has said the European Union (EU) is united on its decision to maintain the border backstop in the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement.

The Taoiseach explained the controversial issue is not only a concern for his state, but for the 26 other EU leaders who see the measure as vital to protect the integrity of the European single market.

It comes as Prime Minister Theresa May's request for adjustments to the backstop, which is the border provision for Northern Ireland, was rejected at the EU summit in Brussels.

Her bid for legal concessions regarding its temporary nature was an effort to gain enough parliamentary support to get her deal approved.

As the second day of the council meeting continues, Mr Varadkar said he believes a no-deal scenario is unlikely, despite the EU ramping up preparations for such an eventuality.

"As Europe, we reaffirmed our commitment for the need for a backstop," he said.

"An open border between Northern Ireland and Ireland can't be a backdoor to the single market.
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"That's why European countries also very strongly support the backstop. It is not just an Irish issue, it is very much a European issue as well.

"It is very much a case of the European Union being one-for-all and all-for-one."

The measure would take effect in the event of the UK crashing out of the EU without a deal, and would see NI adhere to EU regulatory rules to facilitate free-flowing trade across the border.

The Prime Minister is faced with widespread opposition to the provision, amid claims that it will undermine the integrity of the United Kingdom and create an economic border between NI and Great Britain.

The Taoiseach continued that the EU will offer "clarifications or explanations" on the matter, but renegotiation is not an option.

"It's about protecting the peace, keeping the border open, also protecting the single market and making sure we answer this question of the Irish border now, so no side can use it as leverage in the future relationship talks, which we are willing to start as soon as the Withdrawal Agreement is ratified," Mr Varadkar continued.



(JG)

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