General Affairs Council (Article 50)
Press statement by Michel Barnier following the General Affairs Council (Article 50).
Ladies and gentlemen, our proposal for the backstop on Ireland and Northern Ireland has been on the table since February.
It is an insurance policy to avoid a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland, whatever the future relationship will bring.
It reflects our agreement with the UK in December 2017, confirmed by Prime Minister Theresa May in her letter to President Tusk in March.
We are ready to improve this proposal.
Work on the EU side is ongoing:
- We are clarifying which goods arriving into Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK would need to be checked and where, when and by whom these checks could be performed.
- We can also clarify that most checks can take place away from the border, at the company premises or in the market.
- We need to de-dramatise the checks that are needed and that are caused by the UK's decision to leave the EU, its Single Market and customs union.
What we need in the Withdrawal Agreement is a legally operational backstop, which fully respects the territorial integrity of the UK.
This backstop will only apply unless and until a better solution is found, in the context of our future relationship.
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