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Border must not be treated as 'test case', European Union warns UK

10 September 2017

He also said that the UK's position paper on Ireland and Northern Ireland, released last month, "worries" him.

The statement from the government suggests a possible rift between London and Dublin over what to do if the negotiations between the parties in Northern Ireland - principally the Democratic Unionists and Sinn Féin - fail to produce a compromise.

The UK government has argued that there might be no customs implications at all for road and rail crossings if ambitious post-Brexit deal is struck.

The EU's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier says Britain's stance on issues relating to Ireland is worrisome and that a solution to the border issue will require a "unique" solution.

Its Brexit Task Force has issued a Guiding Principles paper on Ireland in the context of Brexit negotiations today.

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In its new position, Brussels clearly stipulates that the solution for the Irish border problem is clearly the responsiblity of Britain.

He said: "I like what the British government is saying about the need to maintain a soft border but it's very unclear how that would be done if we leave the customs union".

Trade between the United Kingdom and Ireland was worth €19.9 billion euros in 2015, according to the British Irish Chamber of Commerce's website.

He accused Britain of wanting the EU to "suspend the application of its laws" as a test case for broader EU-British customs regulations.

"We can not and will not support that and nor will the European Union", he said, adding that Britons wanted to avoid a hard border too.

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Ireland has welcomed Britain's commitment to upholding the Northern Ireland peace process and retaining freedom of movement across the border, but has warned it would not be "used as a pawn" in the larger talks.

As for the common travel area agreement, which predates both countries' EU membership, the European commission hints again that Ireland must be able to "honour its obligations as a European Union member state".

On Twitter on Monday, however, the European Union negotiator claimed he had told delegates that Brexit was an "occasion to explain single market benefits in all countries, including my own", adding: "We do not want to "educate" or "teach lessons".

Brussels has insisted the UK makes "sufficient progress" on its financial settlement - as well as the Irish border issue and rights of EU citizens in Britain - before talks can move on to discussions over the future EU-UK trade relationship.

It called on the United Kingdom to make "substantive commitments and workable solutions".

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Barnier repeated his point that the interests of Ireland and the remaining European Union 27 are the same.

Border must not be treated as 'test case', European Union warns UK